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Volatile crowd backs Austintown BOE member



Published: Wed, September 19, 2012 @ 12:06 a.m.

By Elise Franco

efranco@vindy.com

Austintown

By the end of the school board’s Tuesday meeting one thing was clear — nearly 200 people stood behind board member Harold Porter and his letter calling for the resignation of Superintendent Vince Colaluca.

Porter sent an email Monday to Colaluca and the board of education saying, “I can no longer tolerate your inadequate and failed leadership that I have witnessed over the past several years. I request you immediately submit your resignation to the board.”

Colaluca responded to Porter’s email with a letter of his own, which was made available to the public during the meeting. He wrote that he was “sad and disappointed that rather than meet with me face-to-face in a professional manner, Mr. Porter chose to publicly make false and defamatory statements about me.”

Porter, who said he stands by his email, cited his frustration at what he believes is unnecessary spending as another reason Colaluca should step down.

Porter said teachers are now buying many of their own supplies, but the district has spent thousands of dollars on a marketing campaign, a study to demolish the old Austintown Middle School and a GPS tracking system for the bus fleet.

“How can we come to you next year for a levy, and with a straight face, say, ‘Give us more money,’ when we don’t know how to manage the funds we have?” Porter asked.

In the volatile crowd of staff, students parents and residents — most wearing red in support of Porter — about 15 voiced their opinions about Colaluca’s tenure. Several echoed Porter’s email, calling for his resignation.

Jim Sobie, of Austintown, was one of those residents. “In your response to Mr. Porter’s email, you say the district is doing more with less,” Sobie said. “Who is? The [bus] drivers aren’t; the teachers aren’t.”

Barb Tomik, president of Austintown Educators Association, said communication among the administration and teachers has been in decline.

“The ongoing poor communication is increasing,” she said. “The central office, the board and the AEA need to work together to ensure communication is clear and consistent.”

Fred Marcum, an Austintown resident who said he’s filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain district financial records, said it’s hard to trust in a board and superintendent who won’t respond when the public poses direct questions.

“We as residents have no choice but to assume ... I’m going to assume you’re not doing your job,” he said.

Colaluca responded to the public outcry after the meeting, saying, “Every single person who spoke” had an issued with the board. He said it was that anger that drove their responses.

Colaluca said his priority has always been the students. “I sincerely want to resolve this matter and focus our efforts on what really matters: the students.”

At the end of the meeting, Porter made a motion for Colaluca’s immediate dismissal. No other board member would second the motion.


Comments

1MLC75(529 comments)posted 2 years ago

Vote the Board out !

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2CurmudgeonMBA(17 comments)posted 2 years ago

Don't stop at Austintown, the number of incompetent school administrators is staggering, not to mention costly. Costly in The Valley's future. Same Ole Same Ole, change this trend while we still can.

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3Knightcap(699 comments)posted 2 years ago

What I find alarming is that this BOE member Porter has a wife that is a teacher within the Austintown school system. This guy can work on the wife's contract not to mention all the friends. You have to wonder how many school boards are made up like this where you have a spouse or relative sitting on the board and the other is employed within the system. That explains all the property tax levies, the raises being doled out and the low cost health-care contribution. The Vindy should look into other boards and see if any inbreeding goes on there. As for the 200 people there it was mostly employees I bet. The students and taxpayers should come first then the employees. This guy has it assbackwards and looks to have an ax to frind.

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4Knightcap(699 comments)posted 2 years ago

The only thing that stands out to me in the Austintown schools is the way they cut the benefits of the bus drivers. The superintendent and BOE should have just made small wage cuts and larger contributions to health-care for all employees. That includes the administration which it should be the same as the employees. But instead they go after the lowest on the totem pole and hammer the bus drivers.

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5DwightK(1256 comments)posted 2 years ago

Wasn't Colaluca responsible for that whole debacle where they were going to bus the parochial kids through the WRTA station downtown? Is that the level of incompetence students in Austintown are being sujected to?

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6busyman(239 comments)posted 2 years ago

Wake up Austintown residents. Learn from the UAW at Lordstown. You have to accept the new way of doing business. There are not anymore sweepers working for the union. Those jobs are contracted and have no benefits. Oh, I forgot, as long has the taxpayer is footing the bill it is ok to give benefits to part time workers. I think these people should look outside their own back yard and see what other school systems are doing. Some have already outsourced the busing and janitorials services and are paying these people min wage with no benefits. I do not say it is right, but it is the new way to look out for the tax payers money. The people who do not work for the school system think he is doing what he needs to do. Get mad and do not pass the levy. You would not be breaking my heart.

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7AtownParent(562 comments)posted 2 years ago

Knightcap - with a family member working in the district, Mr. Porter, or any school board member for that matter, is not allowed to vote on issues that affect said family member.

What I saw last night was typical Atown BOE behavior by not addressing a single issue. They never do and it has become ridiculous. Mr. Porter is right, I will not support any levy knowing how badly they mismanage funds.

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8mim218(3 comments)posted 2 years ago

Yes Mr Porter does have a wife that is a teacher and a very good one at that. But if you would take the time to listen, he is not suggesting any changes that are going to directly affect his family. And as stated he has to abstain from voting on any matter that affects his family member. So Knightcap before you want to spout off on things you are obviously ignorant about get your facts. Colaluca is an inept, below standard administrator who feels he needs to answer to no one. He works for the people and the Board and the Board works for the people. I will not vote for a levy as long as there is an administration in place that listens and ANSWERS to the people. These are the schools I pay taxes to support so my children get a good education. That requires an administration that works with the staff and community to inorove and make necessary changes. It does not mean the superintendant can be a dictator. I applaud Mr. Porter, he is not asking for raises for his wife, he is asking that the checks and balances put in place by our Constitution be followed and that the board and Super work for the people. However, Colaluca feels he is above this!!! He never should have been given the position in the first place before he had the proper credentials for the position. But as always, it was the "good ole' boys" politics and he got the job anyhow.

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9AtownParent(562 comments)posted 2 years ago

mim218 - I am so glad someone brought up the credentials issue. I have never agreed with giving him the job when he was neither qualified or had experience for it.

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10Stac6077(1 comment)posted 2 years ago

For one-there SHOULD be a bias towards the teachers and kids! Aren't they what it's all about? Secondly, I think all Austintown parents and residents have learned a hard lesson-VOTE NO! I would much rather keep my money in my pocket so I can take care of my child's classroom myself. We have to pay a fortune as it is to supply the classroom with all the neccessities. We give our money to the school district and it's never seen again. My daughter's classroom has been no less than 100 degrees in it all year so far and when her teacher asked for a fan, they told her no. That along with the broken water fountain has made the poor kids in her class absolutely miserable. And they want us to believe all they care about are the children? Give me a break.

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11mufasa(26 comments)posted 2 years ago

Are the correspondence between the two publicly available? I haven't seen Mr. Porter's message or Colaluca's response.

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