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Board sells Crawford building

| Thursday, Sept. 21, 2006

The Connellsville Area School Board has sold the Crawford School building.

At its regular meeting Wednesday, directors voted to sell the building and vacant land across the street to Eric Gordon, of nearby Gordon's Euro Auto Haus, for $76,800. The building and property were appraised in June 2005 at $108,000.

Gordon's bid was one of two received. Jerry Means, of Tom & Jerry's Medical Home Service, submitted a bid of about $30,000.

The 90-year-old Crawford building held the district's administration offices since the 1970s, when students were moved to Dunbar Township Elementary School. The district moved the administration offices during the summer Connellsville Township Elementary School.

Director Ed Zadylak said the district will not realize the full $76,800 sale price. A survey by Fayette Engineering cost $1,000, advertisements in three newspapers cost almost $1,350 and closing costs have not been determined.

The office move will save the district $85,000 annually on utilities and maintenance.

In addition to selling the property, directors filled several open positions, including that of high school girls basketball head coach.

Bobby Renzi stopped coaching at the end of last season. Two members of the team asked that a coach be hired quickly, because they had been unable to practice.

"We don't have a coach," said senior Monica Faris. "We're losing out on a lot of opportunities our team could have had. We just want to play ball. We're seniors, it's our last year."

Senior Marybeth Giles added, "We hope we can start playing soon."

By a vote of 5-3, directors hired former assistant coach Kim Jacobs, at $5,098.

Jeffrey Harvey, Karen Blocker and Francis Mongell voted against Jacobs hiring. Richard Galand, Kevin Lape, Kenneth Nicholson, Thomas Dolde and Zadylak voted in favor. Loretta Lint was absent.

Zadylak said that all supplemental positions should be advertised in the newspaper to end the current "closed system."

Directors also filled the following supplemental positions: Rob Orndorff, high school athletic medical technician, $3,916; Julie Eichner, high school swimming assistant coach, $2,323; William Ricks, high school boys tennis head coach, $2,166; Tom Nicholson, high school softball assistant coach, $1,366; Justin Shal, high school boys soccer assistant coach, $1,321; Kevin Bell, Junior High East boys basketball assistant coach, $1,685; Jamie McPoyle, Junior High West boys basketball assistant coach, $1,685; Trista Ritenour and Linnsey Kenney, JHE cheerleader coaches, $1,070 each; Brad DeMarco, JHE football assistant coach, $2,004; Donald Grenaldo, JHE yearbook adviser, $1,958; Benjamin Haines, JHE band activities director, $2,277; Dominic Grenaldo, high school stage lighting, $729; and Timothy Martin, high school second assistant marching band director, $1,275.

Directors also filled several staff positions. James Villinger was hired as teacher for the new masonry program at the Connellsville Area Career and Technical Center, at $31,956, retroactive to Aug. 24. Greg Martray is a guidance counselor at the high school, at $32,356. His hire fills a vacancy.

Directors discussed changes in the state tax law to shift the tax burden.

A tax study commission will recommend that the district either increase the income tax or add a personal income tax and reduce property taxes by an equal amount.

"It will probably add 0.5 percent on everybody's income taxes. If you work and own property, you will save nothing," Zadylak said.

He additionally warned taxpayers that the state will allow the district to raise taxes to a certain index without a referendum. The current index would allow the district to raise taxes by 3/4 of a mill.

"That's how easy the Legislature has made it to raise your taxes," he said.

Zadylak continued that he would never vote for a tax increase and that the district needs to cut expenses. He considers the $62 million budget for 5,500 students excessive.

"We have too many administrators, too many principals, too many educators, too many support personnel," Zadylak said.

Mongell said he doubted the current board ever would have the five votes necessary to increase taxes.

The district's Tax Study Commission will join other commissions throughout the county for an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at the Fayette Vocational Technical School.

In other business:

= Falcon Family Fitness Night will take place from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Friday at the stadium before the football game. Families are encouraged to walk around the track. Additionally, health information booths and free blood pressure screenings will be available.

= Directors will have a special meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 in the high school cafeteria. P.J. Dick will present findings from the state-mandated feasibility study.

= The Internet Parent Portal will be available in two weeks. Next week, letters containing each family's log-in information and password will be mailed.

= Superintendent James Duncan reported that Scottdale Bank & Trust will give the district $70,000 to be used for direct instructional uses. Last year, the bank donated money which was used to purchase science equipment at the high school.

= The district will name the high school baseball field the "Thomas E. Sankovich Field" and install a sign honoring the former coach. The cost will be paid through capital reserve funds.

= Personnel director Karen Marko reported that due to the work of the district's safety committee, the district has received a $24,171 discount on its workers' compensation premiums.

= Directors passed a revised wellness policy, 6-2.

Zadylak voted against it on fears that the district eventually will be required to measure students' body mass index and that students will be forced to record what they eat at home. "That's excessive government intrusion," he said.

Dolde voted against the policy because the district no longer requires seniors to take physical education. "It's not a sufficient policy without mandatory physical education."

= Robert McLuckey, director of secondary education, and Rebecca McLuckey, Zachariah Connell Elementary School principal, will retire Jan. 11.

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