HERMITAGE Top school official gets pay increase

The superintendent and board secretary also received one-time payments for work on a new contract.
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- The Hermitage superintendent of schools is receiving a 4 percent pay raise this year.
The school board approved the increase, which is retroactive to July 1, on Monday. The raise will increase Karen Ionta's annual salary to $93,496.
District teachers received an average 3.77 percent raise this year.
Ionta is in the second year of her five-year contract, and there is no automatic annual pay increase built into the agreement, said Duane Piccirilli, board president.
It was at Ionta's insistence that the board review her performance annually and adjust her salary accordingly, he said.
He said she deserves more than a 4 percent increase.
"Four percent is what the board can afford. If there was more money, Karen, you would get it," he told her after the vote.
Ionta did get a one-time additional payment for her work during the recently concluded teacher contract negotiations that began about 18 months before she took over as head of the district.
The board voted to give her $1,500 for her work on that agreement.
The board also voted to give its secretary, Janice DeJulia, a one-time payment of $3,500 for her secretarial work on that contract during the entire 21/2 years of negotiations.
She attended all of the bargaining sessions and handled the paperwork for the board, school officials said.
Special education
In other business, the board voted to turn two special education programs -- one in the elementary and the other in the high school -- over to Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV, which will now run them.
The unit provides educational services to public schools in Mercer, Lawrence and Butler counties.
Ionta said declining numbers of Hermitage pupils enrolled in those classes was the reason behind the decision to cut them from the curriculum.
The high school program, Secondary Multihandicapped Support, was taught by Gayne Bortz, who has resigned from the district. Her position won't be filled although that class will remain in the high school under the direction of an intermediate unit teacher.
The elementary class, Primary Life Skills Support, taught by Doreen Hietsch, is being moved to the Sharpsville Area School District but will also be run by the unit.
Hietsch was transferred into a regular elementary classroom vacancy, and her position as a special education teacher won't be filled.
Three aides that worked in the two programs have been furloughed, Ionta said.
She had no specific numbers available Monday but said the changes will save the district "a substantial amount" of money.

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