AUSTIN — The Austin Area Board of Directors approved a 2% pay increase for Superintendent Kimberly Rees ($94,293) along with a 2.5% increase for several contracted staff members including Principal/Counselor Dan Eskesen ($85,574), Business Manager/Right to Know Officer Pam Terrette ($64,963) and Director of Services/English Teacher Teri Everett ($71,750).
Support staff wage increases were approved for Assistant Business Manager Jessica Clinger ($31,980), Administrative Assistant/PIMS Coordinator Katelyn Ditzler ($28,080), Preschool Aide Rhoda Hooftallen ($16,910), Karrie Page ($12,830), Board Secretary Jessica Clinger ($1,500) and Board Treasurer Pam Terrette ($1,500).
The board approved the general operating budget of the Seneca Highlands IU9 in the amount of $1,135,255. Austin’s contribution will be $15,261.00. The budget reflects no change in indirect cost rate of 2.25%. Salary increases of 1.5% for Act 93 Plan and 1.5% for administrators and support staff are included.
The Board approved the Nutrition Group Food Service Budget for 2021-22 in the guaranted amount of -$14,061.35. In developing the new budget, the Nutrition Group considered the factors that affect annual income and cost and based the budget on the worse case should COVID return and kids continue virtual. The new budget involved COVID-19 pandemic, changes in government regulations, reimbursement, enrollment, food, paper, cleaning and labor costs.
Due to unknown family finances a 10% reduction in participation of was removed from paid breakfast, lunch and la-carte. The budget also includes a 10% reduction in participation over this year and an 8% increase in paper and cleaning supplies.
Upon recommendation, the board appointed Chelsey Dynda to fill the vacant Austin borough board seat and complete her term through December 2021. Chairman Jerome Sasala announced the Portage/Wharton Board seat remains open due to no applicants.
Gregory Oliver was approved to complete his principal internship with Dan Eskesen during the fall semester of the 2021-22 school year. Eskesen stated Oliver is currently an IU9 Special Education Supervisor and will need to complete one semester.
The following extra-curricular positions were approved for the 2021-2022 school year:
Terrette reported the cafeteria project will proceed with the removal of the service line and installation of new hot and cold boxes. With the cafeteria running on its own, it has built up its fund balance to approximately $35,000. Total cost of the project will be about $15,000.
Superintendent Kimberly Rees announced that the district will be receiving approximately $167,000 in ESSER II funds as part of the CARES program. These funds will be used to make the girls and boys locker rooms hands free and will include new bathroom stalls, sinks, fixtures and a new floor. An additional 30 Chrome Books will be purchased along with new desks for the classrooms. Rees stated the ESSER III program is not open yet but the district will be receiving approximately $350,000 in CARES money for additional programs geared toward student learning loss.Rees noted the Pandemic Committee will be meeting in the near future to review and update the School’s Safety Plan to include new guidelines by CDC. CDC now recommends individuals social distance for 3 feet. Austin is continuing to take temperatures in the morning and the mask mandate remains in place. Approximately 60% of the staff has been vaccinated.