West Perry School District Officials Laid Off 14 Teachers

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As the officials of West Perry School District (a public school district in western Perry County, Pennsylvania) have approved the final budget in 2016-2017, they laid off 14 teachers, along with paraprofessionals and an instructional aide.

On Monday, with a 5-2 vote, the school board officially agreed the $38.29 million budget with a 6.33 percent tax increase.

The board members who voted against the measure were Suzanne Dell and Lucinda Egolf. Board members William Kling and Edward Kent were not present in the meeting.

The board vice president Dan Rice,  who voted for the approval of the budget and the layoffs, stated that the board members made a tough decision.

Vice president Rice made it known that the board has tried to be as economical as possible, but Rice stated the school officials’ hands are basically tied, for the reason of the lack of pension reform and cyber schools, which both contributes to the expense of the budget.

The West Perry School District officials took on to the layoffs and the tax increase to recover from a $3.1 million deficit facing the district in the school year 2016-2017.

West Perry superintendent Dr. Michael O’Brien said that financial plan could increase by another $600,000 if West Perry School District does not receive a PlanCon reimbursement from the state’s previous development projects.

However, the board also approved during the meeting that as of July 1, O’Brien’s salary will increase to $136,997. As stated in the agenda, O’Brien’s salary increase represent a 1.56% raise, plus compensation based on prior year’s performance.

Dell expressed her unfavorable opinion about O’Brien’s salary bump, saying that the salary increase did not reflect on  O’Brien’s performance. Dell doesn’t like the idea of O’Brien having a raise and staffs were being cut off.

After the board members’ meeting, O’Brien revealed that the salary increase was part of his contract, but the school superintendent refused to retaliate on Dell’s statements.

Out of the more than 40 individuals who were present at the board meeting on Monday, only a few people set forth their opinions in support of the district’s agriculture programs – as board members thought about it typically to get a final vote on the slashed fundings.

Dennis Weller, a Perry County native, showcased to the board members a pile of petitions with the title “Petition to save West Perry School District Ag Department from budget cuts.”

Weller made it known that the formal written request had more than 500 signatures, some of the signatures was even made by individuals who lived outside of the district, but in a business connection with companies in the district.

However, O’Brien claimed the West Perry School District’s budget did not get rid any agriculture teachers.

O’Brien stated the approved budget laid off 22.5 positions by furloughing 17 staff members, which includes 14 teachers and three aides and paraprofessionals.

The superintendent unleashed the fact that the district still has two agriculture teachers, but these agriculture teachers are certified in general science and agriculture.

O’Brien said that if they have a general science course that needs to be filled and the need is obtainable, they are going to use the resource.

Rob Clark
 

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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