KINGSTON — The Wyoming Valley West School Board agreed at Wednesday’s monthly meeting to ask the state auditor general’s office to conduct a “full and thorough” audit of the district’s books, funding and contracts, including including state funding over the past five years.
The motion was added to the agenda at the request of board member Paul Keating, who said: “I strongly believe, and I hope I’m wrong, that our deficit is far greater than to what is stated in the budget,” and that the maximum tax increases allowed under state law will be required in future years. Keating said he wanted to make sure the council knew exactly what the state of the district’s finances was.
Attorney Lars Anderson noted that the district could request that specific matters be audited, but that the auditor general is an independent entity and would make the final decision on what work to review, if any. The request for inclusion of the motion on the agenda is approved unanimously. When it was put to the vote along with eight other points, it was adopted unanimously.
Keating lost an effort to have a vote to hire a school resource officer for the college at the start of the 2022-23 school year. With this motion already on the agenda, Board Member Brian Dubaskas and several others asked for more details on the cost and a comparison of the payment for an SRO and the amount currently paid to a company under contract for a security guard.
Keating said the numbers he had seen showed that hiring a police officer from Kingston would cost a few dollars less than is currently being spent, and that an SRO would bring the full power of the police force to the school to deal with growing student behavior problems. Dubaskas said he supports hiring an SRO, but more detailed information should be made available to the board before voting. Several audience members spoke strongly in favor of hiring the SRO as soon as possible due to increased fighting inside and outside the building. Seven of the nine members voted to table the motion, promising to put it on the agenda for the next meeting.
The board also increased the salary of substitute teachers to $125 a day, bringing the rate more in line with other local districts that have increased their rates following a chronic shortage of substitute teachers.
And the board has appointed Tara Carey as high school principal with a salary of $81,155 effective Feb. 22. The board also accepted the resignation of the school’s current principal, Jacob Sholtis, whose last day is February 17. Sholtis accepted an administrative position. in another neighborhood.
With Louis Cardoni’s retirement scheduled for July 6, the Board of Directors took action to find a replacement by approving a job description for the position of Chief Commercial Officer.
The board also:
• Accepted a payment of $10,000 from Keystone Garden Estates, Inc., in satisfaction of a 2009 judgment for unpaid income taxes.
• Addition of Jessica Podskoch and Amy Hoose to the list of substitutes.
• Accepted the resignations, due to retirements at the end of this school year, of teachers George Simms, Carol McGarry, Lori Tillger and Cheryl Humphrey, and clerk Patricia Pape.
• Accepted the resignations of nursing assistant Anela Paresa, emotional support aide Dolores Hughes, learning aide Stephanie Delzeit, housekeepers Miranda Deckard and Daniella Deangelo, teacher Stacy Mullen and longtime college baseball coach John Milius.
• Accepted the resignation of David Yezefski as Music Technical Director and appointed Kevin Hettrick to this position.
• Appointed Alexandria Briggs-Reichart to teach family and consumer sciences at the college, with a salary of $49,500.
• Appointment of Mia Simon as health aide at State Street Elementary School at $12 an hour.
• Multiple approved spring coaching positions, including Courtney Thomas for Girls’ Winter and Spring Varsity Track and Ashley Emarantz for Boys’ Winter and Spring Varsity Track at $4,251 each, George Simms as assistant for boys’ spring track in grades 10-12 at $2,764, Abigail Rodway and Elizabeth Kane as head assistants for boys and girls in grades 7-9 at $2,353 each , Brian Meyer and Lindsey Sutkowski as lane assistants for boys and girls at $2,047 each, Jess Ras for girls softball grades 10-12 at $4,051, William Smedley for assistant Girls Softball Grades 10-12 at $2,764, and Andy Barilla and Mike Monaghan for Assistant Girls Softball Grades 7-9 at $2,764 each.
Contact Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish