Coach hiring sparks advertising debate at Southern Columbia
CATAWISSA RR - Southern Columbia Area School Board Vice President Charlie Porter was not happy to hear that the vacant position for head girls track coach was not advertised in local newspapers.
In accordance with a state Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) waiver passed by the board in 2010, board secretary Tresa Britch explained to the board Monday night that the position was advertised on the district's website and in house, and there was only one applicant.
"I'm all for saving money, but as a public entity, we have to get our information out there. People are not always clicking the website," Porter said.
Tom Donlan resigned as the head track coach, but will continue as an assistant coach. Pay will be set according to where that person falls on the salary schedule. Entry level salary for that position is $3,500.
Director Timothy Vought said advertising in newspapers is a "waste of money" and not necessary.
"Everybody is using the Internet; it's a sign of the future," he said. Florey Guarno, of Catawissa, told Vought his outlook is wrong.
"Not everybody uses the Internet, so they wouldn't get the information," he said.
For The News-Item, public notices placed in the classified section of the print product can also be located under the "Classifieds" tab at newsitem.com.
The board still advertises in print media and has used the waiver in limited situations. However, Porter, who has been against the waiver since it passed more than two years ago, said hiring someone already staffed at the district sounds like "an inside job."
If the district limits the advertising, it limits finding the best applicant for the job, meaning the best teachers or best coaches might not be found, he said.
The district spent $8,120 from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012, in The News-Item and The (Bloomsburg) Press Enterprise.
Director Charlene Cover expressed her shock that the district was spending such an amount when they have other options and are looking to save money.
Director Gail Zambor Schuerch agreed, saying, "In a perfect world, we could advertise in the papers, but it's too much money."
At the Jan. 28 meeting, the board discussed forgoing using newspapers as advertisements in response to a Press Enterprise article that some district officials felt was unfair to the district.
No decision to stop advertisements in newspapers was made at the meeting.
Budget gets early OK
The board approved the 2013-14 preliminary budget in the amount of $18,465,177, but the district is $687,000 in the hole.
In order to fill that deficit with tax increases only, Northumberland County property owners would see a raise from 49.95 mills to 57.24 mills while Columbia County property owners would see a raise from 34.20 mills to 38.77 mills.
On a property assessed at $20,000, Columbia County residents would see an average increase of $91 a year while Northumberland County residents would see an average increase of $146 a year.
However, said Business Manager Mike Sokoloski, there's no way the state will allow the district to raise taxes that high, and the budget will be whittled down over the next month.
The $687,000 deficit does not include an anticipated additional subsidy from the state in the amount of $79,796, nor does it include $68,555 in the state Accountability Block Grant, Sokoloski said.
Director Eric Stahley was the only board member to vote against the plan.
"I am against this for the same reason I am against this every year. It bothers me that we have to vote now when the final is due in June," he said.
He was also the lone vote against the exceptions, which allow the district to raise property taxes above the maximum limit set by the state.
Porter said he would vote for both since this was only the process and not the final budget.
"I'll reserve final judgement on the last vote," he said.
In other business
- The board approved a resolution to increase the tax collector compensation by $.25 per bill, starting July 1. The former rates were $2 per regular bill and $3 per installment. The increase will cost the district $1,500 among the four district tax collectors.
- The boys and girls basketball programs from Southern and Mount Carmel Area collected $2,451.50 for Coaches For Cancer during a fundraiser game on Feb. 2.