SASB members clash over funds for pool
COAL TOWNSHIP - A director of the Shamokin Area School Board says he will report the actions of a fellow director to the Pennsylvania auditor general regarding funds raised for the district swimming pool.
Robert Getchey says approximately $15,000 raised by Richard Kashnoski and the Shamokin Stingrays currently held in a booster
account should immediately be turned over to the district. He said the funds were raised "to keep the pool open," pointing to minutes of a 2012 public meeting. Kashnoski attended the meeting along with dozens of others in support of keeping the pool open amid budget cuts. The funds were raised before Kashnoski was elected to the board last year.
Kashnoski says he's not concerned by Getchey's threat, and there's nothing to hide. There was $15,551.31 in the First National Bank account as of Thursday, according to records provided by Kashnoski. The records dated to January 2013. There had been $1,698.09 in deposits and a single withdrawal of $50.20. Transactions are itemized and each bank statement was signed by two account holders.
If the funds were turned over to the district, they would be co-mingled in the district's general fund, he says. That could lead to the money being spent on expenses unrelated to the pool. The funds are intended to be used for "big ticket items" beyond average maintenance costs, suggesting the purchase of touch pads and starting blocks. If such a purchase is requested, the district need simply forward the invoice to the Stingrays so that the account holders can review and approve payment.
Getchey raised the issue during Wednesday's special meeting of the school board, setting off a contentious disagreement. He did so in response to an letter to the editor written by Kashnoski and printed in that day's edition of The News-Item. Getchey was not named in the letter but said he believed it was an attack against him. Instead of letting the issue alone, as he previously told a newspaper reporter he would do, he said he was going to push it.
"If you want to go to the paper, then have the answers for the auditor," Getchey said. "You made all of us look like thieves, saying you don't want our hand in the cookie jar."
Getchey raised his voice before continuing, "That's our cookie jar! ... You had the fundraiser for the Shamokin Area School District pool! You don't pick and choose what the money's used for!"
Kashnoski said he wrote the letter to clear the air and inform the public that the funds were raised by Shamokin Area's swimmers. He said Wednesday that Getchey's previous comments could hurt future fundraising efforts.
"They're being questioned about the program for which they raised money for; it hurts the program and it causes questions," Kashnoski said.
During a lull in the argument, director Charles Shuey, attending via telephone conference, told Getchey that when he speaks with the office of the auditor general he should also mention Shamokin Area's Bucket Club. Getchey had previously defended the Bucket Club when directors called for greater financial accountability from all district booster clubs.
"You tell the other one to shut his mouth. He's a glory hound in the paper. You're a glory hound, too!" Getchey shouted to Shuey.
The argument lasted four minutes, longer than the school board's consideration of a new policy mandating random drug testing for all students involved in extracurricular activities or who drive to school. The policy, which hadn't been previously discussed publicly, was approved.
Board President Ron McElwee struggled to keep the discussion under control.
"We're here to do something good for the future of our students and again we're all being made to look terrible," McElwee said.