The Dallas School Board tabled a motion to eliminate a maintenance staff position at a meeting Monday evening.
Board member Maureen Matiska made the motion, stating she felt the maintenance department has suffered more cutbacks than other departments and the new high school building requires more staff members.
"We've cut maintenance more than any other department in the years I've been on the board," she said. "We have more school to take care of, we have a lot of land to take care of, and I really have my doubts as to whether or not they can do an adequate job with less people."
Superintendent Frank Galicki said a maintenance employee resigned in February and administrators wanted to see how the department could be restructured to avoid filling the open position. He said many positions have been expanded to include additional work without compensation.
"Everyone in the district is working additional jobs, especially with the economy and the way it is," he said.
Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds Mark Kraynack said the department will have just three maintenance personnel left for the entire district if the position is eliminated. This does not include custodial staff – maintenance personnel include mechanics, laborers and groundskeepers.
"I'm going to have trouble - there's no doubt," he said. "As a team effort, that's where I'm following suit."
Business Manager Grant Palfey said everyone has felt the effects of budgetary constraints. He has been involved in transportation and security, and Dallas Elementary School Principal Thomas Traver has coordinated bus routes and enrollment. Palfey said the most important part of dealing with financial woes is not letting them impact the students.
Board Vice President Bruce Goeringer thinks the board should consider hiring more maintenance staff to complement the size and services needed in tending in the new building.
"Anybody who's built a big house knows building it is the easy part," he said.
Kraynack said he would provide a presentation about his department's needs for the April board meeting.
The board also approved 13 change orders totaling more than $242,000 for the high school construction project. Bob Nesbit of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates, the project architect, said the majority of the costs were attributed to an "asphalt escalation clause."
The clause is an agreement the district has with Charles Corby & Sons Excavating to pay for the cost of asphalt and other materials during paving. Paving was completed last fall for the opening of the building.
Nesbit said there are still a few pending issues at the school, including the quality of the logos on the gym floor, explaining that the company that installed the flooring did not prepare it for the application of the logos, leaving them to look "four or five years old."
He said the flooring will need to be completed during the summer when students aren't on campus.
Nesbit also said there are lingering issues with the auditorium dressing rooms, the stage curtains, the art classrooms and other areas.
In other news, the board…
• Presented a certification for Wycallis Elementary from Jack Wega, director of federal funding, for the school program being nominated by the state Department of Education's division of federal programs as distinguished in the Title I program for two consecutive years.
Wega said out of about 3,500 school buildings in the state eligible for Title I funding, only 97 are nominated for the honor.
• Approved a new metal detector policy for the high school. The policy states screenings will be conducted on groups or at random to avoid discrimination issues. If there is suspicion of the presence of a weapon, the school resource officer will be present at the time of the screening. The policy also states signs will alert students and visitors about unannounced screenings.
• Approved the resignation of Teresa Pizzo, middle school classroom aide, effective March 2.
• Appointed the following personnel: Caroline Engel as Dallas Elementary personal care assistant at a rate of $8.10 per hour, Richard Mikulka as senior high school hall monitor at a rate of $8.10 per hour, Crystal Hettes as Wycallis Elementary personal care assistant and classroom aide at a rate of $8.10 per hour.
• Tabled the following maintenance appointments effective Feb. 27: Tex Wilson from Laborer 4 to Middle School Custodian 4 at a rate of $11.43 per hour and Michael Coombs from Middle School Custodian 4 to High School Custodian 5 at a rate of $10.98 per hour.
• Passed a resolution to pay for the cost of the 2011-12 advanced placement tests for students enrolled in applicable classes with the understanding that the student will be responsible for the cost if he or she fails to take the exam without a legitimate excuse.
• Approved a donation to the Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18 Performing Arts Scholarship in the amount of $1,000 for students to attend the Performing Arts Institute Summer Program.
• Approved the WVIA V-Media school program agreement for the 2012-13 school year at a cost of $1,500.
• Approved a donation of $5,000 toward the 2012 graduation lock-in.
• Approved a sabbatical leave of absence for Sarah Kashatus for the 2012-13 school year.
• Changed the status of Jonathan Stucker from student technical aide to technical aide at a rate of $10 per hour.
• Appointed Diana Alichnie as chairperson of the business, computers and information technology department.
• Approved the resignation of Holly Brauns, Dallas Elementary classroom and office aide, effective March 23.
• Approved a leave of absence for high school science teacher Emma Healey for the period of April 11 through June 13.
• Appointed the following employees: LuAnn Brace as high school hall monitor, Thomas Burkhardt as mini-bus van driver, Joseph Lombardi as mini-bus van driver, Anita Grohoski as mini-bus van driver and Charles Siglin as mini-bus van driver.
• Approved an extended leave of absence for Crystal Seidel, Dallas Elementary teacher, to continue through June 13, and appointed Diana Burns-Snyder as a long-term substitute for that period.
• Approved the resignations of Daniel Nestorick, History Day co-advisor, and Craig Haywood, assistant football coach.
• Appointed Kasey Corbett as volunteer softball coach.
• Approved a $750 donation to the high school girls' softball team for its annual trip to Florida. The board noted that last year, $1,500 was contributed to the trip.
• Hired Greg Miller as assistant football coach with a stipend of $3,976.
• The next Dallas School Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. April 2 in the administration building.