By Susan Tebben
The Austintown school district is having a job fair for full-time, part-time and substitute positions in an effort to fill a need for new employees at all kinds of jobs.
The district is anticipating retirements due to a recent retirement-system change and cost-of-living increases, according to Superintendent Vincent Colaluca.
“Because of the way the retirement builds up through years in the system, though, we are encouraging teachers who don’t get hired on to get on board as maybe a janitor or a substitute so they can build up their retirement,” Colaluca said.
The fair will take place at the Austintown public library community room from 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The district started organizing the job fair in October, but it was not scheduled until after a pool of candidates graduated from Youngstown State University, Colaluca said. Positions are not all immediate openings, he said. “The majority of positions are for the 2013-14 school year,” Colaluca said.
The time of the job fair was coincidental in being at the same time as contract negotiations with the current teachers, Colaluca said.
Still, a parent is organizing a protest of the job fair, and says the protest has attracted other residents.
“It is my opinion as a father of four students in the Austintown school district that this board and its Superintendent Vincent Colaluca never planned to negotiate in a timely manner or in good faith,” said Jim Sobien, who said he plans to sit in front of the library in protest of the board’s decision to continue with the fair.
School-board member Harold Porter said he had received numerous phone calls about the fair and, though he acknowledges the fair was organized in October, said he thinks the fair should be canceled with all the concern surrounding it.
But the school district made the teachers union aware of the fair, and union president Barb Tomic said she hopes the fair sparks some interest in filling substitute positions.
“We have a lack of substitutes in the district and an anticipation that there will be [numerous] retirements because of the requirements by the State Teachers Retirement System,” Tomic said.
Tomic also said the union was “absolutely not” concerned about the job fair’s being a tactic to influence contract negotiations.
Colaluca said the fair had nothing to do with the collective bargaining and was not about disrespecting the process.
“We have not had an issue, and negotiations haven’t come close to breaking down,” Colaluca said.
The fair has had “heavy interest,” Colaluca said.