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Laurel Highlands schools to recall furloughed employees

| Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 7:08 a.m.

After last week's final adoption of its $44.46 million budget, the Laurel Highlands School District is moving ahead with plans to recall furloughed employees.

Superintendent Jesse Wallace said the school board wants to recall 22 furloughed employees, including six teachers and two custodians who lost their jobs last year when the district faced a tight budget that required significant cutbacks.

“We want to bring back furloughed employees, decrease class size, buy textbooks, pay down debt, improve technology and give back what our students have lost in the last few years,” Wallace said.

In a split decision, the school board adopted the 2013-14 spending plan, which raised millage in the school district to 15.33 mills. The increase will cost taxpayers an additional $63 for each $100,000 of assessed value.

Wallace explained that the tax increase will generate $630,000 that was needed to balance the spending plan.

The budget will allow the school district to purchase an estimated $300,000 in textbooks. Wallace said the school district has not purchased any new textbooks during the past three years.

School board members Jamie Miller-D'Andrea and Beverly Beal voted against the budget.

“I firmly believe that books don't educate students, but teachers do,” said Miller-D'Andrea, an educator in another Fayette County school district.

School board member Tom Vernon abstained from voting on the budget because he is a candidate for a tax collector's position in the November general election.

In other business, the school board:

• Agreed to hire Randy Walker as food service director at a salary of $53,000 a year.

• Voted to hire Joanna Markle as the middle school French teacher.

• Accepted the retirement of Vicki Mitchell, paraprofessional aide.

• Accepted the resignation of Kenny Riddle as assistant varsity football coach.

• Granted permission for Larry Frank, a high school science-engineering teacher, to attend a summer training session in Baltimore, Md., at a cost of $3,428.

Cindy Ekas is a freelance writer.

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