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Penn Hills school board passes budget, furloughs in 5-3 vote

| Thursday, June 27, 2013, 10:06 p.m.

The Penn Hills school board passed the 2013-14 budget by a 5-3 vote at its Thursday night meeting, with members Heather Hoolahan, Denise Graham-Shealey and Jennifer Burgess-Johnson voting against it.

Outgoing board member Carolyn Faggioli was not present.

After an executive session which delayed the advertised start of the meeting by an hour, the board voted in favor of a $75.95 million budget, balanced through a combination of teacher furloughs and debt restructuring.

After an original proposal of 17 teacher furloughs, the final number was reduced to 11. The board vote on the furloughs was also 5-3.

Business manager Richard Liberto proposed a “scoop-and-toss” approach to the district's 2013-14 debt service, reducing the roughly $7.5 million the district was scheduled to pay down in the coming academic year and pushing it into payments in future years.

The board also voted to implement an immediate retirement incentive for clerical personnel who are 55 and older or have worked in the district for 25 years. The buyout package is $10,000 and $60 per sick day, and will be offered until July 31.

Another 5-3 vote saw the board furlough 16 non-instructional positions: four service aides, four technology aides and eight instructional aides.

Hoolahan, Graham-Shealey and Burgess-Johnson voted “no” in all three instances.

Three Penn Hills police officers were also present at the meeting. Police Chief Howard Burton said the district requested additional officers be present. Customarily, one officer attends board meetings, Burton said.

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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