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United school administraotrs, tax collectors get pay increases

Jeff Himler
| Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

United School Board on Tuesday approved pay hikes for several district administrators and made an adjustment in compensation for the district's locally elected tax collectors.

Pay hikes of 2.5 percent each were approved for the elementary and high school principals, the director of education, the facilities coordinator and assistant facilities coordinator as part of one-year Act 93 agreements that are retroactive to July 1 of last year. An agreement with similar terms and the same percentage raise also was approved for the district business manager.

Following the meeting, school board President Don Davis said that action had been delayed on the agreements during the transition period of searching for and hiring United's new superintendent, Dr. Barbara Parkins. “Those got placed aside a little bit to be fair to our leadership team,” he said.

The board approved a new, higher compensation rate for elected tax collectors in the district, granting them $4.35 for each real estate tax or per capita tax statement mailed. According to district officials, the collectors' compensation previously totaled $3.35 per tax bill — $2.05 when it was sent and $1.30 when it was collected.

Davis indicated the old rate had been in place for more than a decade and an adjustment was called for “with postage and everything that's gone up.”

The new rate will take effect on Jan. 6, 2014, when the next term for the elected collectors begins.

The board approved two change orders for G.M. McCrossin, a contractor working on the elementary school renovation project. The change orders include $14,480 for additional lighting and $9,601 for electrical breakers.

Davis indicated work on the project is “right on schedule,” suggesting that the district should “have a really nice rededication ceremony before next school year.”

United staff and students celebrated the receipt of Keystone Awards at both the high school and elementary school, signifying that each school building has met AYP (adequate yearly progress) benchmarks for student achievement on state assessment tests during two consecutive academic years, 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Davis acknowledged that United schools have never missed qualifying for the awards since they were first issued by state officials.

“It's not easy to do,” he said, noting that the benchmark for the percentage of students expected to achieve proficiency on the tests increases each year. “By 2014, they're looking at 100 percent proficiency.”

Representatives from each school accepted the awards during Tuesday's meeting. Representing the high school were English teacher Richard Szelong, math teacher Darlene Sexton, 12th-grade student Cabot Bisbee and eight-grade student Johana Knapic.

The elementary contingent included three faculty members: Patricia Sexton, a learning support teacher and president of the United Education Association; Susan Garaventa, who teaches math and science in fourth grade; and Chris Matava, who teaches communications and social studies in sixth grade. Also on hand were fourth-grader Tressa Mack and sixth-grader Hannah Brown.

Also recognized were the United varsity cheerleaders, whose performance at a qualifier event at Richland High School earned them a trip to Hershey Feb. 2 for the state tournament.

In remaining personnel matters, the school board accepted Mark Dellett's resignation from the supplemental position of head softball coach and hired Tom Harley to take over the role at a salary of $2,689.93. An assistant position on the varsity baseball coaching staff remains to be filled.

Gifted teacher Todd Surloff was approved for placement on the master's plus 45 pay scale pending receipt of appropriate transcripts and review by the superintendent.

Unpaid leaves of up to 12 weeks each were granted for elementary instructors Mary Douglas and Casey Buchkoski under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Casey Carnahan and Sue Anne Fatula were hired as their respective long-term substitutes.

New high school principal Michael Worthington was granted permission to transfer four sick days from Everett Area School District, where he previously was employed.

Tess Weimer and Megan Rensko were approved as respective homebound instructors for a first-grade student and a sixth-grade student.

The following volunteer coaches were approved: Charles Boring, varsity wrestling; Clay  Skedel, track; Edward Plowman, softball; and Cory Widmar, softball and volleyball. Danielle Kovalcik was approved as a volunteer at the elementary school.

Tim Riskus and Sam Buzzinotti received permission to attend the PIAA wrestling tournament March 6-9 in Hershey, at a cost of $1,540, provided students are eligible to attend.

Ag instructor Kristie Good will attend a State Legislative Leadership Conference March 10-12 in Harrisburg, at a cost of $450, provided students are eligible to attend.

Ben Saylor and qualifying students will attend Region Chorus March 20-23 at Redbank Valley High School at a cost of $1,376.70.

Acey Gongaware and one student will attend the All-East In-Service Conference and Music Festival April 4-8 in Hartford, Ct., at a cost of $1,623.40.

Ronald Saffron was reappointed as district solicitor through February 2014. He will be paid an annual retainer of $6,000 and $85 per hour for any additional services as needed.

The board approved a renewed contract with Blackboard Engage, formerly Edline, to provide web hosting services for the district website. The cost of the contract is estimated at $859.43 depending on the amount of discount provided through the e-rate program.

United approved agreements with Pressley Ridge, which will provide special education services, on a semester basis rate, retroactive from Jan. 22 to June 5, at a total cost of $28,500.

The board approved use of a Pregnant and Parenting Teens program, available through the ARIN Intermediate Unit at a cost of $900.

A baker's dozen of members were approved to serve on the United Agriculture Advisory Board: Parkins; guidance counselor Janie Short; community member and former FFA student Frank Kwisnek; parents Mike Blankenship, Kevin Boring and Marie Boring; Pa. Game Commission representative Justin Duncan; agricultural shop aide Roy Duncan; greenhouse aide Carole Carney; junior high science teacher Judy Shomo; former ag teacher Richard Stumpf; and students Kyle Witten and Amber Boring, who are the respective FFA chapter president and vice president.

Davis indicated the district's agricultural instruction program is due for a periodic state audit.

The board also accepted the 2011-12 local audit report of district operations prepared by Kotzan, CPA and Associates, P.C.

Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or

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