The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 22, 2013

Conneaut school leaders are given new contracts

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Administrators in the Conneaut Area City Schools district received new contracts at Wednesday night’s Board of Education meeting.

The contracts, which take effect at the start of the 2013-2014 school year, were approved unanimously and without comment by the three members president. Board president Cris Newcomb and member Sonny Heinonen were absent.

At a work session preceding the regular meeting, Superintendent Kent Houston said the contracts are tied to the same wage scale that determines teacher salaries, and any perception that administrators would receive pay hikes while teachers go without was “false.”

Some of Conneaut’s administrative posts fare poorly, pay-wise, when compared to similar positions in other Ashtabula County districts, Houston said. “Some of our administrators are paid $20,000 less than other (districts),” he said.

In addition, new state mandates will require administrators to do lengthy evaluations of teachers on an annual basis, Houston said. On average, each administrator will spend about two hours daily on staff evaluations, he said.

“It will be a monumental task,” Houston said.

Houston praised the work done by his administrative staff, saying they continue do an admirable job while being “brutalized unfairly by some people in the community.” He didn’t specific which positions have been subjected to the harsh criticism.

“We’re lucky to have people who love to be here,” Houston said.

Contracts (with salary and duration in parenthesis) were awarded to: Dawn Zappitelli, Conneaut High School principal ($71,708, three years); Joel Taylor, CHS assistant principal ($74,168, three years); Liesl Blackwell (Gateway Elementary School principal ($77,842, two years) and Karen Kehoe, director of special services ($62,109, three years).

The board also agreed to salary notices for three positions already under contract. They are: Rita Maslovsky, Conneaut Middle School principal ($78,352); James Campbell, athletic administrator ($60,069) and Kris Mucci, director of curriculum/testing/instruction ($68,243).

After the board’s vote, Houston congratulated his staff. “I don’t know how you do it,” he said.

In other business, the board accepted the pending retirement of employees Linda Bernay, director of the Conneaut Digital Academy (and former CMS principal); John Roskovics, assistant CMS principal; Beth Carlisle, CMS computer technology teacher; and Robert Starkey, CHS science teacher. Retirements for Bernay and Carlisle are effective the end of this month, Roskovics on April 30 and Starkey on May 31.

“We’re losing a lot of experienced staff,” Houston said. “I wish them well in their retirement.”

Elsewhere, the board:

• Approved a resolution saluting CHS wrestler Billy Post, who qualified for the recent state tournament

• Learned a mechanical engineering firm is preparing cost estimates to convert electric-fired boilers at CMS to natural gas and to repair a chimney and sections of roof at CHS

• Approved the use of school buses to shuttle people between parking lots and the D-Day re-enactment at Township Park in August

• Accepted supplemental coaching contracts for Rocco Dobran (assistant baseball), Adam Lytle (CMS girls track) and Scott Ogren (CMS girls track)

• Authorized the Conneaut High School Marching Band to raise funds for a Spring 2014 field trip to Walt Disney World in Florida for the theme park’s Magic Music Festival. The trip could be a valuable recruiting tool, board members were told.