by Sarah Reese
The Ellwood City Area School Board has been forced to make numerous difficult decisions in previous years regarding passing a budget for the following school year as have other boards across the state.
Cuts have been made in nearly all aspects of the school district including removing the elementary instrumental music teacher position after the retirement of Ray Falotico, a decision disapproved by a wide majority of parents with children in the music program.
Last night’s school board meeting raised concerns for the future of the district among board members. Leroy Cortez voiced his opinions on his disappointment in the budget before the vote.
“It’s reckless to think that we are going to have to take from our fund balance and raise taxes,” said Cortez. “Then, next year, the same thing and the year after.”
Cortez and former Elementary Principal George Garda were the only two members to vote against the budget. By majority, a $26,988,166.00 General Fund Budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year was approved.
The budget, however, was overshadowed by the unexpected announcement of the retirement of Ellwood City Superintendent Frank Aloi. A letter of retirement was read by Aloi in the executive session, prior to the public meeting.
Aloi, who has spent 50 years working for the district, will leave with many great memories and positive feelings toward the staff, board and all of those he worked with, according to the letter.
An extra executive session was held last night in order to give the board time to make a decision on how they would handle filling the superintendent position.
After what seemed like forever, the public was welcomed back into the room where the board announced they had accepted Aloi’s retirement that would become effective as of July 16, 2014.
Assistant Superintendent Joe Mancini was then appointed as the active Superintendent for the 2014-15 school year at a salary of $122,000.00. The Assistant Superintendent position was then, in turn, eliminated.
Board members congratulated both men and remembered their time as students of Aloi during his term as the Driver’s Ed teacher.
The man, who touched six decades in Ellwood, mentioned multiple times throughout the meeting that one of the reasons for his retirement was to help Ellwood receive the savings from his salary in hopes of benefiting the budget.
“Once again, as he’s done for 50 years, Frank Aloi has done the right thing for the school district,” said Cortez.
Mancini will officially become Superintendent the same day as Aloi’s retirement becomes effective. The board voted to cancel the July meeting and will reconvene in August to further prepare for the coming school year.