Ringgold stays hot as election nears
Shortly after the start of the Ringgold School Board meeting, director Chuck Smith pulled out a sign that he posted next to his spot at the table.
The sign read simply: “Vote.”
It was a prelude to a lengthy board meeting in which many of the directors took turns campaigning to keep their posts.
The primary election is less than a week away, and seven of the directors are seeking re-election.
Before the meeting began, board President Mariann Bulko noted that the session would be the last meeting before the election and asked the members to respect each other.
“I certainly hope this meeting does not turn into a three-ring circus or a free for all,” Bulko said.
Her request was mostly ignored.
The battle lines were drawn one last time over how to house middle school students in the future.
The board is proceeding with plans to construct a new middle school on the Carroll Township campus where the high school is located.
It would replace the Ringgold Middle School – the former Finley Middle School building – which has been shifting for years because of pyrite beneath the surface.
The board has been split on the issue for more than a year, with the current majority favoring new construction over a proposal to renovate the shuttered Monongahela and Donora elementary centers for use as middle schools.
Board members Larry Mauro, and Chuck and Bob Smith took turns reading from a 2010 editorial in which Pottstown School Board member Thomas Hylton advocated for then Gov.-elect Tom Corbett to eliminate PlanCON.
PlanCon, short for Planning and Construction Workbook, is a set of forms and procedures used to apply for state reimbursement.
The PlanCon forms are designed to document a local school district's planning process, provide justification for a project to the public, ascertain compliance with state laws and regulations, and establish the level of state participation in the cost of a project.
Because Mauro initially took the stand usually reserved for residents who address the board, Bulko gave the directors chances to speak as residents, not board members.
Board member Maureen Ott said the renovation of MEC and DEC would be relatively equal to the cost of constructing a new building, but with $450,00 in additional annual costs to maintain two buildings over one.
Chuck Smith repeatedly interrupted Ott, saying he had the right to do so under board policy because Ott was misrepresenting the truth.
When the discord involving Chuck Smith and Ott continued, Bulko called for a five-minute recess to restore order.
No tax hike
The board found some universal ground, approving a $39,477,474 preliminary budget that holds the line on real estate taxes.
The board voted 8-1 on the tentative budget, which mirrored the spending plan laid out for the board May 1 by Business Manager Randy Skrinjorich during a finance committee meeting.
Director Larry Mauro cast the lone dissenting vote, saying board members were not given enough of a role in developing and scrutinizing the spending plan.
“I really can't believe we're going to fund everything we're going to fund without more money,” Mauro said.
The board accepted the resignation of High School Principal Dwayne A. Homa amid a shroud of secrecy.
Homa had been on suspension with pay during an internal investigation that Bulko and Superintendent Dr. Karen Polkabla previously acknowledged.
Homa's resignation, and an agreement between the former principal and the district, were approved, 7-2, with directors Bob Smith and Carol Flament voting no.
Both said they were under a gag order from the district not to discuss anything concerning the personnel matter.
Polkabla referred questions to Solicitor Tim Berggren, who declined to comment.
In other personnel matters, the board reappointed Ron McMichael as athletic director.
Several coaches and sports boosters spoke on behalf of McMichael, citing his professionalism and the stability he has brought to Ringgold athletics.
Transportation director James Kester was retained.
New district employees will be required to undergo drug testing under a new policy approved by the board.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Charleroi police seek details in pedestrian fatal crash
- Ringgold boys’ basketball picture coming into focus
- Local homes tour will benefit Belle Vernon Area’s anti-drug program
- Deteriorating Monessen building under renewed scrutiny
- Holiday movie gives Cal U students get 2 seconds of fame
- Recalling ‘White Friday’ storm that paralyzed Mid-Mon Valley in 1950
- Mon Valley Leathernecks tackle Toys for Tots drive
- Valley man charged in fatal DUI crash case
- Century-old Christmas tradition catching on in Mon Valley
- For some, pathway to Thanksgiving often bumpy
- Mon City man arrested for alleged assault