Some district residents wonder why the board is hiring a new administrator when it wants to save money.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- The school board here is hoping to hire the former schools superintendent in Strongsville as its new business manager.
Dennis Kowalski would be a "perfect fit" in the job of Canfield schools' business manager, board President Mark Squicquero said.
"We were very impressed with him," Squicquero said.
The board voted 3-2 Monday to enter into contract negotiations to hire Kowalski. Squicquero and board members Bruce Brocker and Sam Pitzulo were in favor of negotiating with Kowalski, while Martha Zarlenga and Charles Eddy Jr. were opposed.
The new business manager will be responsible for purchase orders, buildings and grounds, and transportation expenditures. Board members said the position of business manager was created in response to local residents' concerns about the financial operation of the district.
Squicquero said Kowalski was faced with financial uncertainty as superintendent when tax levies for the Strongsville schools failed at the ballot. A 6.9-mill, five-year additional operating levy for Canfield schools failed in the May primary and is set to appear on the ballot again in November.
School officials have said the district needs additional revenue to avoid going into debt and being placed in fiscal emergency by the state.
"Even if we pass a levy, we have a tough year ahead of us," Squicquero said. "We need [a business manager] in right now."
Some local residents, however, have said the board shouldn't hire a business manager when it needs to save money and stay out of fiscal emergency. Others have said that they feel the board doesn't need a full-time business manager.
Squicquero said he thinks the business manager will help save money for the district. He added that he thinks the board has made several recent personnel decisions that will allow it to afford hiring Kowalski.
What they are
Those decisions include not hiring an assistant principal for the high school for at least six months, hiring a new director of special services that will earn less than his predecessor, and not hiring a replacement for assistant superintendent Dante Zambrini.
Zambrini was promoted to superintendent Aug. 1. He replaced Doug Hiscox, who was named associate superintendent and is expected to resign in January to pursue other job opportunities.
Kowalski had been a candidate to replace Hiscox. Squicquero said the board was impressed with Kowalski and wanted to give him a job even though it didn't hire him as superintendent.
Zarlenga, however, said she believes the board should have given more consideration to other candidates for business manager before entering into negotiations with Kowalski. She noted that the board didn't interview any other applicants.
"It's not right to hire somebody right off the bat without putting an ad in and interviewing other people," she said. "I don't think you should just go ahead."