By Denise Dick
Without a November levy renewal, the city school district will start deficit spending in fiscal year 2013, according to the latest five-year forecast.
The forecast was presented by Blaise Karlovic, interim district treasurer, at Tuesday’s regular school board meeting.
Karlovic, treasurer of the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center and the county Educational Service Center, recently was appointed to the district post after William Johnson, the former treasurer, was placed on paid administrative leave by the state Academic Distress Commission.
The levy, approved by voters in 2008, expires at year’s end.
Karlovic’s forecast is less sunny than the last one prepared by Johnson, which included projected increases in some funds coming from the state.
“Levy passage is critical,” he said.
Tempers flared among board members regarding procedural issues.
Andrea Mahone, finance committee chairwoman, asked that three resolutions be pulled from Tuesday’s agenda because they hadn’t been reviewed by the finance committee. She said a meeting had been scheduled but board President Lock P. Beachum Sr. canceled it.
Beachum said that was to allow Karlovic time to finish the five-year forecast.
One of the resolutions was for personnel appointments, including administrators, summer-school employees and several retirements.
“I don’t feel comfortable spending money on personnel when we’re finding out Mr. Johnson’s numbers were totally wrong,” Mahone said. “I feel we owe it to ourselves and to the taxpayers — especially if we’re asking them to pass a levy — to take a look at it.”
Karen Green, assistant superintendent for human resources, said most of the positions aren’t paid with general-fund money; those that are are replacement positions, some of which are being paid less than the salary of the person who previously held the post.
“Did you look at your packet last week when you got it?” Michael Murphy, board members, asked Mahone. “You could have called people, and you should have asked your questions before tonight.”
Hathorn said the back-and-forth has to stop.
“I cannot run the school district like this,” he said.
If board members trust him, they have to let him run the district, Hathorn said, adding that he’s not going to increase general-fund spending.
“You’re stopping me from being successful,” he said. “This is not right. I don’t appreciate it. This is a power play, and this needs to stop.”
Beachum said the board has to let the superintendent manage the school district and then hold him accountable.
Mahone said she isn’t making a power play.
“I don’t plan on running again, so I don’t have anything to lose,” she said. “You [Hathorn] keep saying you’re here for the kids; are you really here for the kids?”
Ultimately, the three resolutions were pulled from Tuesday’s agenda and a special meeting is set for 4:45 p.m. today, preceded by a 4:30 p.m. finance committee meeting, to consider them.