Oil City board divided on some spending issues

VE-Front-Page
By JIM MEYER
Staff writer

Oil City School Board members were divided on several issues at their meeting Monday as some members raised concerns about spending.

The board voted to approve a salary increase for middle school principal Craig Kasunic to $77,500 over a three-year period, with Jim Disque, Nick Skokowski and Fred Weaver voting no.

All three dissenters addressed Kasunic directly to say their votes were in no way a reflection on him.

“Absolutely, I think you deserve it,” Weaver said. “Just like I think every police officer and firefighter deserves $100,000. The money is simply not there. I don’t think people know how eroded this tax base is.”

Superintendent Pat Gavin said another principal in the district was hired at $77,500 and that Kasunic’s salary was raised to give him equal pay for an equivalent position.

“In a way it showed us how off-kilter our salaries are,” Gavin said. “Craig came in at a salary that’s lower than what he could’ve gotten elsewhere. We’re just trying to do right by him.”

Also on Monday’s agenda, personnel items were asked to be approved in a single motion, which Skokowski argued amounts to a rubber stamp.

The personnel items included nine separate items, each of which was broken down even further.

“When we’re asked to hire someone,” Skokowski explained, “we never hear who else interviewed and what their qualifications were. All we get is a name, and we’re supposed to approve it.”

Weaver joined Skokowski in voting no on the personnel items, which included leaves of absence, fundraising requests, field trips, substitute teachers and hiring professional staff. Those items were approved as the other members voted yes.

Skokowski also voted no on approving a Sunday event for the wrestling program from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 7 at the high school gymnasium.

Again, Skokowski cited that not enough information was forthcoming. He questioned whether students who missed the event due to church would be penalized.

“It’s not that I think the coach would hold it against them, but we never hear from the person,” Skokowski said. “He’s not here. I can’t ask him.”

Finally, Skokowski defended his vote against purchasing two cargo vans for the cafeteria, saying the district provided no information about bids or what it would take to fix the current vans.

Board member Angella Scalise said the vans were being paid for out of money the cafeteria has earned, not district funds.

The board will hold its reorganization meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4. That will be the panel’s last session in 2017.