President's plea contradicts vote
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At the end of Gateway school board's heated meeting last week -- during which the board voted on a $65 million 2012-13 budget that furloughs 27 teachers, raises taxes and cuts programs -- board President Dave Magill encouraged those in attendance to call their state representatives and ask for more funding for public schools "or public education as we know it today will no longer exist."
But during a school board meeting at the end of May, Mr. Magill was one of six board members to vote against a resolution supporting increased state funding for K-12 public education. Mr. Magill didn't offer an explanation for his "no" vote during the May meeting, but board member Dan Nowak did.
"That may seem crazy to all of you," Mr. Nowak said. "Why wouldn't you support the state giving us more money?"
He argued that increased state funding for public education would result in increased state taxes and said municipalities should tax residents to fund education, not the state.
"I do not think more money from the state is good for this community," he said.
Asked about the seeming about-face after the meeting Wednesday, Mr. Magill noted that the board voted on a lot of resolutions and said that he perhaps voted against it because the Pennsylvania School Boards Association discouraged boards from voting for it. He and district spokeswoman Cara Zannella said they would look into the vote at a later date to thoroughly answer a reporter's questions.
Mr. Magill and Ms. Zannella could not be reached for comment since the meeting.
Board member Skip Drumheller, who proposed the resolution in May, said the resolution was authored by the school boards association.
Steve Robinson, a spokesman with the PSBA, confirmed that the association authored the resolution and encouraged school boards to customize and adopt it.
"Resolutions like this one are just one of the advocacy tools the association and school entities use," he said in an email. "They are a way for boards to get behind an issue, no matter what it may be, and officially support a position one way or the other. It is one way school boards can formally share their views with their local legislators."
He said he hasn't heard of any other district in the state voting down a version of that resolution.
Mr. Drumheller said he doesn't recall any discussion among board members prior to the May meeting when they voted, 6-3, against the resolution. Mr. Drumheller, Bob Elms and Jim Capell voted for it.
"When the resolution was voted down, I was somewhat flabbergasted," Mr. Drumheller said.
Monroeville resident Lori Pokusa, whose 13-year-old twins attend school in the district, attended several school board meetings leading up to the budget vote. She said she's frustrated with some members of the school board and said it wasn't fair for board members to blame decreased state funding for the district's shortcomings.
"They're setting everybody up to fail," she said. "They're passing the buck.
"It's smoke and mirrors. They're trying to say that it's the government's fault, but it's really our school district's fault."
First Published July 6, 2012 12:00 am