Employee contracts approved, apologies offered

EAST LIVERPOOL – Two employee contracts that had been tabled at its last meeting were approved unanimously Monday night by the city school board, with apologies offered by two board members to sports information director (SID) Jimmy Joe Savage, whose contract was one of those approved.

The board had tabled Savage’s contract and that of vocational teacher John Torma at its April 14 meeting after a lengthy executive session. After the meeting, board President Janice Martin said Torma had not yet completed some course work required of his position, also saying there were some questions about Savage placing watermarks on his photographs taken for the school district and selling them for profit that had to be discussed with legal counsel.

Martin was not present at last night’s meeting, but Inez Street resident Larry Long addressed the board, saying he wondered who had questioned the SID’s integrity, saying board members owed Savage an apology.

Long said Savage is “the best deal this district has had since a superintendent (worked) for $1 a year,” and said he is “out there pushing our kids.”

Long showed an example of a photographic collage Savage had made for his son, Aaron, and said, “It was insinuated he is benefiting on the backs of our kids. Our kids are standing on his back.”

Savage also addressed the board, saying he read in the newspaper about the controversy over what he does and produced a list of 10 duties he performs as SID, including setting up and maintaining a free website for the district for photos, taking photographs and sending them to the newspapers, providing photos for the yearbook and other needs, working with the athletic director to keep schedules updated online, setting up a scouting section to promote athletes and more.

“If there is still a controversy, I will resign as SID and continue to run the pottersportsonline website, which is mine, not the school’s. At no cost to the district, I will keep the site running the way I have since it was thought of putting Potter sports online in 1997. This is done for the families in the district,” Savage told board members.

He added that, if that is not acceptable, he would remove the website and also said if there is a reason of which he was not aware for his contract being tabled, he was willing to speak to the board about it, saying that, “no matter what you decide, I will always love the Potters and always consider myself a Potter.”

Member Brian Allen spoke up first, offering his apology “from the bottom of my heart,” saying the $1,800 salary Savage earns as SID “doesn’t cover his gas” and that he was “disheartened” that information was provided to the media following the last meeting regarding Savage’s contract.

Member Scott Dieringer also apologized, saying he had spoken to Martin and did not believe it was her intention to bring information out of an executive session and disseminate it.

“I’ve appreciated what you’ve done. I don’t think anyone’s had a problem. There was a question about a technicality and once I was sure it was OK, I had no problem (with Savage’s contract),” Dieringer said.

Board member Larry Walton said he did not believe he owed Savage an apology, noting the two of them had worked together and “if he feels he has to ask for an apology, then our standing wasn’t what I thought it was.”

Vice President Bob Estell did not comment on the matter, and the vote was 4-0 in favor of Savage’s appointment at a salary of $1,827.

Torma’s one-year limited contract was also approved 4-0 but without comment from the board or audience.

The board had voted 3-2 against the extra-curricular contract of athletic director Robert Shansky at its last meeting, but that contract was not re-addressed last night, although Shansky was in attendance.