Coudersport Board hires principal, adopts budget

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Coudersport High School has a new principal. He is Stephen Mongillo of Bradford, who was hired by the School Board on Monday.

Board members also, by a split vote, adopted an $11.7 million operating budget for 2010-2011, and an accompanying real estate tax increase.

Mongillo, a former guidance counselor, succeeds Alanna Huck, who has been promoted to superintendent of schools. His starting salary is $75,000. Board members were unanimous in their approval.

Meanwhile, the budget and accompanying tax increase of 1.57 mills passed by a 5-3 vote, with Tim Watson, Scott Bruzzi and Drew Robinson dissenting. Overall, the tax increase amounts to just under four percent, or about $40 for the average property owner.

In response to a question from board member Marcia Lagrua-Jones, business manager John Abplanalp said the district last raised taxes in 2006. Lagrua-Jones observed that if directors declined to raise taxes this year, “it will hit the taxpayers even harder next year.”

“There is not any fluff in the budget,” Abplanalp said. “We’ve cut it to a bare minimum,” He outlined several factors, including the anticipated increase in required payments to the State Employees Retirement Fund. Coudersport will reserve $150,000 to offset the increased retirement expenses.

Increased special education and charter school costs also affected the budget, Abplanalp explained, and health insurance expenses are expected to rise. At the same time, the district does not know how much state subsidy will be approved.

Bruzzi said he opposes a tax increase due to “tough economic times.”

“I hope next time we can look at different ways of conserving,” he added.

Robinson remarked that he is “philosophically opposed” to asking property owners who are out of work or who have had salaries and benefits cut “to foot the bill for public sector employees who get four-, five- or six-percent increases automatically.”

Watson said he opposes the inclusion of the increased retirement fund allotment in the budget.

In other matters, members accepted the resignation of acting superintendent Bob Smith, who has been serving since the retirement of Rick Toner in February.

“This is an excellent school district, with an excellent administration, and this is an excellent board,” Smith said.

He noted that the district has adopted a responsible budget, hired a qualified superintendent and principal, and has made progress toward a new contract with the teachers’ union. The most recent agreement expired on June 30.

“You came at a time when we really needed you,” said Board President Joe Lagrua.

Members voted unanimously to extend the terms of the current contract with the teachers’ union while negotiations continue.

Salary adjustments for professional employees not covered by a bargaining unit were approved, with Watson dissenting. He objected that some employees who did not receive increases will see a diminution in overall compensation because they have to pay a portion of their health insurance premiums.

Board members accepted the resignation of faculty member Jennifer McClintic.

2010-07-03 / News

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