Scrap issue comes up again

EAST LIVERPOOL – The city school board voted Monday night against a proposed agreement with an employee to sell the district’s scrap metal.

The recommendation by Superintendent James Herring for an agreement with employee Joshua Milhoan to sell the scrap included a provision for the district to receive 60 percent of the proceeds and Milhoan, 40 percent.

However, it wasn’t the share of the pie that had board President Janice Martin concerned, but a board policy that states, “Employees shall not engage in or have any financial interest in any activity which conflicts with their duties or responsibilities in the district.”

She said this is the second time the board has been asked to vote on the issue, which was also defeated the first time in May.

“I don’t understand why we are bringing this up again. When does no mean no?” Martin asked.

Vice President Robert Estell said the board was given a “better presentation” this time, but agreed the board policy must be followed.

Martin said the district has custodial and maintenance personnel who can take the scrap just down the road to Six Recycling, and the district would then receive all the profits.

Herring said the type of scrap involved could include desks or axles that need dismantled and the district doesn’t have the manpower to tear apart such things, whereas Milhoan would do that dismantling on his own time, which he said he considered a “win-win for the district,” since it would not cost the district anything.

Martin also asked about the liability if something were to fall from Milhoan’s truck, and board member Brian Allen also asked whether the district has any liability in such a case, with Treasurer Todd Puster saying the board should require him to file a certificate of insurance.

“When something happens, they go to all parties (with legal action), and we’re the deep pockets,” Puster said.

The board, however, voted 5-0 against the recommendation.

Another recommendation by Herring, however, gained a unanimous vote in favor.

The board approved a resolution adopting a calamity day makeup plan that includes the use of “blizzard bags,” providing the teachers’ union agrees.

He explained after the meeting that the blizzard bags contain actual classroom assignments students would complete at home to make up for time off during calamity days, emphasizing this would be class time, not homework.

The blizzard bags can be used three times throughout the year and only after five calamity days have been used. With a day off Monday, the district has used six calamity days thus far, and Herring anticipated students would be off again today due to a bitter cold forecast.

Speaking of homework, Estell said some criticism had been launched against the district after the Westgate principal sent a letter to parents saying homework is not to be counted toward students’ grades.

Estell said he did some “homework” of his own and learned that Pennsylvania has passed a law making it illegal to use homework as a grade and said he believes the board needs to “leave it up to the professionals” to determine, not board members.