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Had enough? No. 12

MICHAEL REMICK

Pine Creek

On Nov. 6, 2014, Keystone Central School District Superintendent Kelly Hastings received a new 5-year contract that extended in 2020. Her package included an “early retirement incentive.” KCSD will pay the full premium for her health care, above her co-pay, until she is eligible for Medicare and other insurance.

This has a familiar ring to it. Do you recall the “deal” for Angela Harding?

Harding retired after only four years working at KCSD, at age 45. KCSD will pay much of her premium for health care should she continue to want the district’s insurance the next eight years. I estimate the cost to the taxpayers will exceed $100,000.

Please note that KCSD board members Mrs. Debra Smith, Mr. Roger Elling and Mr. Charlie Rosamilia did not support the new Hastings contract and voted no.

Let us examine those who voted yes at the time. Besides their names, I have given what I believe to be are “points of interest.”

1. Butch Knauff, board President, his wife was a faculty member.

2. Jeff Johnston, board member, a former KCSD instructional administrator.

3. Tom Shaffer, a long time KCSD faculty member, retired.

4. Wayne Koch, a long time, highly placed state PSEA union official.

5. Greg Strouse, who would subsequently resign his elected position.

6. Albert Jones, who did the same.

On August 4, 2017, Superintendent Hastings suddenly announced her retirement. It is curious to note that her retirement would not become effective until March 12, 2018, seven months later.

Now folks, the story thickens. On this same night of August 4, 2017, KCSD business manager, Susan Blesh, received a brand new 5-year contract.

Of interest, this new contract became effective the day before Hastings announced her retirement. Curiously enough, the Blesh contract was passed by a unanimous vote.

Once again, it appears to me that business manager Blesh, under the terms of an “early retirement incentive” in her contract with KCSD, will receive upon her retirement a similar deal as did Angela Harding.

Her contract states, “The business manager will continue to pay the premium co-pay in effect at the time of her retirement. The board shall pay the full premium above her co-pay. When the business manager is eligible for Medicare, district coverage will be discontinued.”

Is it possible that there was a “network” within KCSD? Were folks going about “feathering their own nests” at taxpayers expense?

Keep in mind, the school board now consisted of only seven members. Strouse and Jones were gone.

It would still require five yes votes to approve it. Yes votes cast by Knauff, Koch, Johnston and Shaffer would not be enough to approve the Blesh contract.

Questions arise.

Why was the contract effective the day before the Hastings retirement announcement?

Why did Mr. Rosamilia, Mr. Elling and Mrs. Smith vote for this new Blesh contract, having voted no for the Hastings contract?

I submit that Rosamilia, Smith and Elling might have had no idea what was in this new Blesh contract? It is not logical to me that they would have otherwise voted for it.

Is it possible that on the same night of Aug. 4, 2017, upon the sudden announcement of Hastings, and the board now faced with a serious and unexpected situation, that Rosamilia, Smith and Elling were duped by a network led by Hastings, Knauff and Shaffer?

One highly placed KCSD official stated to me that that was precisely what happened.

For fear of retribution, I have pledged not to betray that confidence.

I cannot say what happened that night in executive session. I was not in that room.

Current board members, Mr. Koch, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Rosamilia and Mr. Elling were. Speak up please folks. The public has a right to know. After all, they will be paying for all of this.

Whatever happened or did not happen that night in that room, I submit, that once again, we see enormous benefits, going to a top school official, that I believe are unwarranted.

Our already overburdened taxpaying citizens, and our overwhelmed senior citizens deserve better than this.

I will let the reader decide for themselves. For me, I have had enough.

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