School district reminds employees of law

LISBON – School employees could have to reach into their own pockets to pay for any purchases made without the accompanying purchase order, under a policy adopted at this week’s school board meeting.

The policy gives school Treasurer Cindy Shultz the authority to issue a written warning for first offenses and requires the district employee to pay for the purchase if a second violation occurs.

State law requires purchase orders be obtained before any purchase can be made, and Shultz said the policy is an attempt to remind employees of the law.

She said it is a problem that occurs from time to time, but some employees appear to disregard the law more frequently than others, despite how often they are told.

Obtaining a purchase order before hand ensures the money is available. “Don’t buy anything unless you have a purchase order. It’s as that simple as that,” Shultz said.

Board President Jim Smith, who was previously employed in the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office, noted making purchases before obtaining the proper paperwork is a problem common to all government agencies. Board member Gary Percuchetti said it is a frequent problem at the county vocational school, where he serves on the board.

Shultz said there are exceptions, such as emergency purchases, but her office needs to be told about them beforehand. “We tell people with an emergency, ‘Just call’ … I try to be cooperative in most instances,” she said.

In other action, the board promoted custodian Ed Duko to the maintenance position, with a salary of $43,772 under the two-year contract. The board decided to return to the practice of having a maintenance man after contracting last year with a company to provide maintenance services.

Board member Jeff Elliott voted against the hiring because he believed the salary was too high.

He would have also preferred Superintendent Don Thompson seek formal applications to ensure they are getting the best qualified candidate to oversee their complex HVAC systems, which could save them money.

“Nothing against (Duko). I think he’s a great guy … I don’t question the person, just the manner of how it was done,” he said.

Thompson said he did field some inquiries from others interested in the position, but none of them were willing to work for the salary.

Elliott also voted against the decision to hire Zach Crothers as a full-time custodian to replace Duko. Crothers has worked as a substitute custodian in the system, and Elliott felt it was a conflict of interest for Duko to recommend Crothers to replace him.

Finally, the board hired recently retired science teacher James Watt to continue on as a science teacher and to assume the additional duties of coordinator of the district’s online school. He will be paid $32,440.

The board launched the online school last year as a way to retain students by competing with other online schools.

The coordinator the first year was Charles Little, who came out of retirement to take the job for $46,375. He decided at the end of this year to retire for good.