NEW CASTLE Board tables school project hiring

Board members hired Atty. Charles P. Sapienza to be school board solicitor.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- New Castle School Board members failed to agree on who will oversee the high school building project.
Board members voted 5-4 at Wednesday's meeting to table hiring a construction management company after questions about the cost surfaced.
The school board was set to hire Roth Marz Partnership P.C./North Atlantic Development Corp. of Erie when board member Larry Nord questioned the contract costs.
The district had budgeted $600,000 for construction management costs, but the company's estimate was much higher than that, Nord said.
Estimates: The company estimated its fee for the entire project to be $969,000. Other companies being considered for the job estimated their fees to be anywhere from $600,000 to $1.14 million, school officials said. The board received nine proposals, and three companies were interviewed.
Nord said he wants more study on the issue before deciding whom to hire.
After the meeting, board President Lynn Padice said she will ask board members how they want to handle the matter at the next board meeting.
Padice and board members Joe Farris, Allan Joseph and Peter Yerage voted against tabling the issue.
Nord, Frank Bonfield, Karen Humphrey, Tom DiMuccio and David Domenick agreed to table it.
School Superintendent Joseph Martin said the Erie company's $1.14 million cost is an estimate. The contracts with any of the companies that submitted proposals are negotiable, he said.
School officials were hoping to have a construction management company hired before they solicit bids for the work next year. Plans call for construction to start in the spring.
Solicitor replaced: In other business, board members hired Atty. Charles P. Sapienza Jr. to replace school solicitor Thomas Piccione. Piccione is resigning in December to take a position as a judge in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.
DiMuccio, Nord and Farris abstained. Farris said he did not vote because his wife works for Sapienza's law firm.
Nord and DiMuccio were not at Monday's caucus meeting when the matter was discussed. Both said they thought there should have been more discussion before a vote.
Sapienza will start Dec. 3 and be paid a $4,000 retainer and $90 per hour.
No school trips: Board members also unanimously agreed to a one-year moratorium on student trips outside the state. School officials say they will review the policy each year but decided to ban trips this year because of terrorism threats.
The board also accepted the resignations of six teachers who took the district's one-time severance deal for longtime employees. Five elementary school teachers and a music teacher who splits his time between Croton, Lockley and George Washington schools are resigning. All will finish work Jan. 18.
They will receive a one-time payment of up to $25,000, based on years of service to the school.
School officials estimate the district will save about $40,000 from those six retirements.

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