Over a dozen visitors filled into the board room on Monday, May 9 to support Athletic Director Darrin Morella, who had offered his letter of resignation to the Ellwood City Area School Board.
Although approving the resignation was slated as part of yesterday’s voting meeting agenda, the motion was removed in the interim. Because Morella’s contract is a personnel matter, it is exempt from Pennsylvania’s Open Records Law. The board may hold discussions under executive session and doesn’t have to provide information to the public.
However, several visitor comments and unofficial statements indicated a raise was at the heart of the resignation. The AD’s salary is $10,000 and a raise a $2,000 was cited by multiple sources. Morella declined comment on the matter when asked by the Ellwood City Ledger.
Morella was hired last year, replacing Anthony Pietrcollo, who retired. Since then, Morella has made numerous contributions, several of which were mentioned by visitors at Monday’s meeting.
Morella has attended most (if not all) school board meetings since being hired. Ellwoodcity.org did not observe Pietrollo at a single meeting from January 2015 until his resignation in June.
Morella, working with the Ellwood City Borough, contracted a project to replace the infield and improve drainage at the varsity softball in Stiefel Park. He also organized an intermural powder puff game between Ellwood and Mohawk, worked on organizing club soccer and bowling teams and researched long-term projects such as a light-up board for Helling Stadium.
Among those who attended in support of Morella were eight members of the varsity softball team and head coach Gary Rozanski, who arrived shortly after an 8-5 win over Mohawk.
“Mr. Morella has done more for our team than Mr. Pietrcollo ever did,” pitcher Skyla Greco said, adding that Morella fixed the softball field and has attended all home games and most away games.
“You don’t find too many AD’s that go to golf matches,” Steve Battaglia, an athletic booster said. He also credited Morella with eliminating a once-common problem with multiple teams scheduled to use the same field at the same time.
Kim DeLoia, a teacher and assistant girls golf coach, said that Morella had attended practices to encourage the athletes. Also speaking on Morella’s behalf were Kitchen Cabinet members Stephanie Muntean and Earla Marshall and girls junior high softball coach Bill Garroway, among others.
During Monday’s meeting, Morella made comments to the board, citing savings to the district in the amount of $26,000, mostly from securing a reduced price on the softball field project.
“I don’t do this for me, it’s for the them [the athletes],” Morella said. “When I went to leave one softball game, Skyla said, ‘You can’t leave’ and that meant the world to me. As elected officials, you have to do what’s right. I challenge you, and I won’t back down.”
Morella ended his comments by thanking the visitors and the board. “We’re not supposed to talk about certain things in public, but that’s garbage to me,” he said.