Sto-Rox school board vacancy filled

Lifelong local fills Region 2 seat

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Patrick Dorrenbacher, a lifelong resident of Stowe, was appointed last Thursday to the Region 2 seat on the Sto-Rox school board to complete the term of Joseph Vojtecky, who resigned Nov. 1.

Mr. Dorrenbacher had run for school director in 2009. The board voted 5-1, with two abstentions, to appoint him to the seat, which represents Stowe. He will serve until December 2013.

Mr. Dorrenbacher is a paramedic supervisor and patient specialist with NorthWest EMS in McKees Rocks. His children are graduates of Sto-Rox and are attending college.

He said he hopes to foster more parental involvement and encourage Stowe and McKees Rocks to more actively pursue the collection of unpaid taxes on abandoned properties.

Competing to fill the vacancy was Michael Glass, a project manager with FedEx Ground and a part-time professor at Robert Morris University, where he teaches business professional communication courses.

He moved to the area from Beaver County in 1995.

In other action, board members adopted a resolution urging Congress to amend the Budget Control Act to alleviate "drastic cuts to education that would affect our students and communities."

The district will share the resolution with representatives and senators in an effort to avoid across-the-board budget cuts that could mean a loss of an additional $100,000 in annual federal funding for the district, which "shoulders a funding shortfall in special education in excess of $2 million."

Director Edward Maritz Jr., a member of the Federal Relations Network, a national school board association group committed to grass-roots advocacy for public education, referred to the possibility of further budget cuts as "a perfect storm" that could attribute to "an economic collapse of [the] district," which serves students in McKees Rocks and Stowe.

According to the resolution, several programs, including Title 1 grants, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act state grants and Head Start programming could be affected by a provision in the act to impose $1.2 trillion in budget cuts on almost all federal programs, including education.

The cuts would impact school districts in 2013-14, with the exception of monies for the Impact Aid program, which could be withheld this year.

Special education students "are already the most underserved in our district," he said.

Further funding cuts could result in larger class sizes, fewer course offerings and possible staff and teacher furloughs for all public schools.

In 2010, Sto-Rox lost nearly $1 million of its budget due to state subsidy cuts.

It operates on $23.1 million funded in part by accessing $1.24 million of the district's fund balance.

In other board news:

Superintendent Michael Panza requested that his salary be frozen through June 30, although he earned a combined board evaluation that exceeded expected performance for 2011-12 school year.

Directors voted to acknowledge and support the formation of the Sto-Rox Parent and Teacher Organization.

The group aims to develop a closer connection between home and school by encouraging parental involvement and a safe learning environment and providing financial support to programs that foster those efforts.


Sonja Reis, freelance writer:


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