Friday, January 07, 2011

P-G: 13 seek vacant Mt. Lebanon school board post

Members of the Mt. Lebanon school board spent nearly six hours this week conducting interviews to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation last month of school director James Fraasch.

Thirteen people, three women and 10 men, ranging in age from 20 to 69, appeared before the board one at a time on Monday and Tuesday night to interview to complete Mr. Fraasch's term, which expires at the end of the year. One person withdrew her application yesterday, citing personal reasons.

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Blogger Bill Matthews said...

"The process we used was unprecedented. Rather than making the decision in executive session, which is how vacancies are normally filled and have been filled by us and other districts, we've chosen a very public process."

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Section 708. Executive sessions

(a) Purpose. An agency may hold an executive session for one or more of the following reasons:

(1) To discuss any matter involving the employment, appointment, termination of employment, terms and conditions of employment, evaluation of performance, promotion or disciplining of any specific prospective public officer or employee or current public officer or employee employed or appointed by the agency, or former public officer or employee ......... The provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to any meeting involving the appointment or selection of any person to fill a vacancy in any elected office.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


January 07, 2011 8:32 PM  
Blogger E. T. Gillen said...

I mentioned this at Tuesday's meeting and have discussed it on the lebocitizens blog. President Posti is under the impression that she being very public about this and told me so after my comments.
Elaine Gillen

January 07, 2011 9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How will the SB conduct the appointment on Monday, 1/10 ? Will they discuss the comparitive merits of the candidates in the public meeting in keeping with Section 708.(a)(1) with nominations, etc. in keeping with Roberts Rules...or will there be no open comparitive discussion prior to an immediate, sole nomination, no discussion, and a vote indicating executive session/private conversations beforehand ?

Bill Lewis

January 07, 2011 10:11 PM  
Blogger Bill Matthews said...

I guess what is unprecedented is the District making an overt attempt to comply with the law.

Last year, under the former president's leadership there were several attempts to do the opposite. I am not just talking about efforts to chill RTK requests and classify many documents as not subject to RTK, but also the liberal application of the "Executive Session". I firmly believe subjects not of proper content were taken up by the Board in Executive Session.

Last year Mr. Kubit said: "The School Board makes all decisions about this project with input from the Superintendent, administration, teachers, architects, construction manager, consultants, Master Design Team and community." If one were to count the number of decisions made in public during 2010 on this 100+ million dollar project -- I don't think one would even have to take off one's shoes.

Yet, the District continues to routinely fly the Transparency flag over its affairs?

The transparency issue got me thinking about the 2011 spring budget season.

The last 5-Year forecast published on the District website was dated 02-03-10. Since that time at least two 5-Year forecasts have been distributed to the Finance Committee, but not published on the website. After looking at the September 14, 2010 ESTIMATED forecast, I can understand why. This forecast could not pass a cursory review by most residents, except those holding seats on the School Board.

A couple budget highlights comparing the 09-14-10 ESTIMATED 2015-2016 to ESTIMATED 2010-2011:

Millage +21.97%
EIT Collection +15.93%

Salaries +13.29%
Healthcare +23.38%
Debt service +26.08%
Contracted Prof Services +0.0%
Repairs & Maintenance +0.0%
Transportation +0.0%
Tuition +0.0%
Other Purch Serv +0.0%
Supplies +0.0%
Utilities +0.0%
Books +0.0%
Equipment +0.0%
Dues and Fees +0.0%
Total Expenditures +25.89

Note the many expense categories with 0.0% increases (with a collective total annual spend of about $12MM). BTW these categories were expected to increase in the 02-03-10 District forecast just over $2MM or 17% by 2015-2016.

Maybe Dr. Steinhauer has a plan that will hold these expenses to 0.0% increase, but I cannot imagine what has changed in 7 months to save an ESTIMATED cumulative $6MM over five years. There are a number of teams working on expense containment opportunities, but until there are plans to implement; the Community deserves a forecast based on the best available information.

Yes, we don’t know what exactly will happen with PSERS, but we also do not know that all the vendors with a stake in the 0.0% increases above will not be raising prices -- or -- that we will become more efficient consumers.

If a $2MM annual revenue increase is in fact required by 2015-2016, this would add one mill to the budget over five years. This would make the 5 year millage increase 25.72%, not 21.97% as Dr. Steinhauer forecast in September, 2010.

If this is not enough to ponder -- we could actually face a real budget crisis in the next few years should the Act 1 statutory limitations not even allow 0.0% increases in some of these categories.

The District does not want to talk about how the Brick & Mortar spending could suck the life out of our academic and enrichment programs.

However, this is a real possibility.

January 09, 2011 2:34 PM  
Anonymous John Ewing said...

The expense problem comes about when you think you have retirements. You may need to reduce staff by attrition in the high school, but your retirements come in the elementary schools. The teachers are then replaced in the elementary schools and the salaries, healthcare and pension expenses march upward.

Wait until it becomes apparent we have too many buildings and the elementary schools are consolidated into five neighborhood schools because we built an extra 180,000 Sq. Ft. more onto our high school than Bethel Park did for about the same enrollment.

Hmm! Both middle schools total about 200,000 Sq. Ft. Maybe we can close the middle schools instead of the elementary schools. Stay tuned!

January 09, 2011 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you come up with five elementary schools?
Elaine Gillen

January 09, 2011 8:41 PM  
Anonymous John Ewing said...

When we closed the junior high schools we studied combining seven elementary schools into five “neighborhood” elementary schools.

One idea was to close Washington School and sell the property to a new business on Washington Rd. but Washington would not fit into Howe or Lincoln.

In 1994 we put a twelve-room addition on Lincoln School and reinforced Lincoln’s roof to hold an additional floor of new classrooms. It is, therefore, possible that the extra classrooms added to Lincoln would allow Washington to be split between Lincoln and Howe. Washington School could be closed and the property developed.

Washington School was in a blighted area when the Lincoln addition was built. If the property were declared blighted again, a TIF could be granted to the developer of the property.

January 09, 2011 9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You never said anything about closing another school, so here is an idea. Since Hoover has low enrollment, let's sell it to UPMC and they can use it for the infamous sports facility that we keep hearing about at the high school at some future point. Maybe the Hoover kids can go back to Jefferson, the way it used to be. Hoover is close enough to the hospital and would be a natural to have it as another medical facility. After all, isn't medicine one of our larger industries in Mt. Lebanon? Wouldn't it build our real estate tax base if UPMC bought Hoover and that would offset our drop in the 15228 earned income taxes. 15228 goes from seven to seventeen

Elaine Gillen

January 09, 2011 9:49 PM  
Blogger JE Cannon said...

Good points, all. And Bill, I agree, it's somewhat ironic the Board, which has done its utmost to keep the entire school project hazy, is suddenly operating under the banner of "transparency". It's yet another example of the collective arrogance and eltitist mentatlity on the part of those people.

Regarding schools, one of the many arguments for the new school is its age (realizing, or course, there have been so many "reasons" for the project). Thus, using that logic, wouldnt it make sense to tear down Lincoln, one of the older facilities in the community. Wonder how Miss Posti would feel about that? i'd say leave Hoover alone since it's a somwhat modern building, even though it has the fewest students. Wait--isn't a low student/teacher ratio ALSO one of the rationale for a new high school?...

I could do this all day, just poke holes in the SB's justification. It's almost insulting to anyone with any intelligence. I would have more respect for them if they just came out and admitted it's all about image. Because frankly, that's what it is.

January 10, 2011 11:30 AM  
Anonymous John Ewing said...

Whoa, Elaine! Hoover is one of the remaining closing options but do we really want UPMC that close to our jewel, St. Clair Hospital?

There are more options that could shield our District from the influence of UPMC. Did the District ask Allegheny General’s price for the same services we hired UPMC to do?

Did we get good pricing from UPMC if we didn’t ask for a competitive price? Maybe the pricing is terrific but how do we know?

January 10, 2011 12:04 PM  
Blogger E. T. Gillen said...

JE Cannon, you are forgetting that the School District likes to tear down somewhat modern buildings. Think Building C - 1972!
Elaine Gillen

January 10, 2011 12:05 PM  
Anonymous John Ewing said...

JEC, they not only tear down new buildings, they rebuild them. That is how they got into trouble with lot coverage in the Zoning Code they ignored.

Let's just call it C-Gate.

January 10, 2011 12:15 PM  

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