MASD to re-balance budget

BY PAT FARNELLI

The Montrose Area School Board learned Monday that the district had $80,000 in additional funding, and its finance committee needed to address how the budget just approved last month could now be balanced again.

Superintendent Mike Ognsoky said that in the final state budget approved, the school district had received about $400,000 in funding, not originally expected but hoped for.

Because of the tentativeness of the potential funding, Ognoski said that about $320,000 was projected and priorities were set up as to how some programs previously cut could be restored.

He said Tuesday morning that the finance committee would need to meet at the high school Sept. 25 to discuss allocating the $80,000 so it could make a recommendation to the full board at its next regular meeting which is set for Monday, Aug. 6, at 7 p.m. at the Choconut Valley Elementary School.

Ognoski also noted Monday that the district had paid the contractors who have completed their work on the new administration building, and only the grounds outside remain to be completed.

Three checks were cut for the Climate Control Technology company, who completed the building’s cooling and heating systems; Linco, the plumbing contractors; and Ultracon, who finished their work, removing an underground fuel tank and other underground work.

The general contractor will be paid when the outside grounds are landscaped and seeded.

“He is waiting for cooler days, so that the sun doesn’t burn the grass,” Ognosky said.

The ditch work has already been completed.

Ray Santerini, an area consultant,  was introduced by Ognoski to the school board as the coach who has worked with district administration every year for the past nine years for their administrative retreat.

Ognosky said he had been very helpful in training administrators on techniques in dealing with people, and how to handle situations.

Nicholas Boccella, who was hired as an assistant junior high football coach, submitted his resignation effective immediately.

“He was going to work as a day to day substitute here, as well, but he just was hired for a full-time position at another district,” Ognosky said. The board accepted his resignation with regret.

A long list of policies were given final approval. Ognosky said that policy 226 was the most interesting: “It clarifies who can be present for searches, what evidence can be used, and the role of administrators versus police officers,” he said. Cell phones can be problematic if included in a search. They cannot be searched without the student’s permission, but can be confiscated for the day or until a parent comes in.

Board member George Gow suggested removing the batteries and giving them to the student to ensure that the phone will not be checked, but will be disabled.

Extended school year transportation contracts were approved.

Brackney Brotzman was hired as a daily substitute general counselor for the day camp at Choconut Valley Elementary School, at a rate of $10 per hour. Janet M. Flannery was hired as a part-time, gifted teacher at a salary of $22,495.

Edward A. Falkowski was hired as a contracted full-time school psychologist for the district, at a salary of $75,189. Falkowski was the psychologist assigned to the school by the intermediate unit, and Montrose has contracted with the IU for his services.

Now, he will be directly employed by the Montrose Area School District.

Bus driver Jim Ainey attended the meeting to represent school bus contractors. He reported that the annual school bus inspection had been held that day, and that a few defects were repaired, mainly marker lights or step lights.

He said, “We would really appreciate your consideration for part of that extra stipend you’ve received, beyond the state reimbursement formula.”

Ainey said that a number of factors, including mileage, age of the bus, number of children riding, and the size of the bus, are used to determine the compensation of bus contractors, as well as the aid ratio assigned to the district.

He said the formula went into effect in 1973, and even then, was not intended to cover the entire cost of transportation. Occasionally, the district gives the contractors pay that exceeds the formula. The first time this happened was in the 2005-6 school year.

“The price of fuel makes it difficult to manage,” he said. “We can’t afford things like retirement or health benefits here.”

The board took no action on Ainey’s suggestions.