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Connellsville Area School District Superintendent Lujetic resigns post

| Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, 12:06 a.m.

Connellsville Area School District Superintendent Daniel Lujetic is stepping down at the end of the school year.

The board announced Lujetic's resignation during its regular voting meeting on Wednesday night.

Board President Jon Detwiler read and then tabled a motion that Lujetic's last day as superintendent will be June 30 and to advertise the position for a replacement.

“We thank him for his dedication to the improvements to the high school,” Detwiler said. He added that Lujetic is a kind-hearted, easy-going man and always willing to listen to different sides of an issue. “I'm looking forward to working with him for the next five months.”

Lujetic, who was not present at the meeting, was named the district's superintendent in May 2012. He was selected from 30 applicants and six finalists.

“He won't have any problem finding another school district that needs his services,” Detwiler said after the meeting. “He's shown he's capable of running a big district.”

In other business, the board heard from Jeff Straub, project architect with Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates, concerning the high school renovation project, especially the reimbursement from the state.

“The final reimbursement value is $10.6 million,” Straub said.

Connellsville, like many other school districts in the commonwealth, is awaiting word from the state about a moratorium on PlanCon reimbursements.

Straub said the PlanCon moratorium expired in July but there's still no word from the Department of Education when the district will receive the reimbursement funds.

Worst-case scenario, said Straub, would be one to two years.

“It's being processed by the state, but at a slow pace,” Straub said.

He added that the renovated high school received certification as a gold-level building from the U.S. Green Building Council. He said it met certain standards like having 25 percent of the building made from recyclable materials, 31 percent more energy-efficient than the average school building and having improved indoor air quality.

• The board voted 7-2 to approve limiting the real estate tax rate to the Department of Education-calculated index of 2.8 percent for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Directors Francis Mongell and Jim Duncan cast the negative votes.

Detwiler explained the vote doesn't mean there would be a tax increase, but if there was, they would not go over 2.8 percent.

Mongell and Duncan said the extra $360,000, if there were a tax hike, might not be enough to help balance the school's budget, which has been at a deficit for the last five years. The board has been taking money from a reserve fund to balance the budget.

Mongell said the board is not addressing reducing the district's expenditures and downsizing the district.

“The way it is now, nobody is talking about anything,” Mongell said.

Duncan said the board needs to look over all the district's expenses.

“Nothing has been done to slow the drain on the fund balance account,” Duncan said.

• Mongell and Duncan also voted against three motions involving field trips. They said they wanted to adhere to a district policy where school principals were not permitted to leave their schools to go on field trips.

“They're more valuable being in their buildings,” Duncan said.

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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