The Tamaqua Area School District has entered into a bill audit services agreement with a West Lawn, Pa. firm to review its electric and telecommunication bills.

At Tuesday evening's regular monthly meeting, the district's board of education authorized Business Manager Connie Ligenza to enter into the agreement with Utilitech, Inc.

"Utilitech searches for tariffs, taxes and inappropriate rates, then will go back and capture refunds," said Ligenza during the board's finance committee meeting this month.

If any refunds are found, the company splits a portion of the difference with the district, she explained.

The agreement will allow Utilitech access to the district's utility bills going back three years.

"We are allowing them access to the bills, and they come back with a proposal," said Ligenza.

Delinquent taxes

After meeting in a closed executive session, the board followed the recommendation of the finance committee to remove delinquent real estate taxes and interest for two Tamaqua Borough parcels.

One parcel, 23 Market Street, had a total of $3,228.46 removed for tax years 2004-2008, while another parcel, 311 Orwigsburg Street, had taxes and interest of $411.07 for 2007.

The borough is taking ownership of the properties in lieu of taxes. 23 Market Street has been demolished while 311 Orwigsburg is abandoned and scheduled for demolition.

Personnel moves

The board approved a number of personnel moves.

Jose R. Urquiza was hired as Spanish Club advisor, at a stipend of $404.

The retirement of Gary Keilman, full-time custodian, was accepted, as of Jan. 2, 2010.

Andy Miller and Margaret Miller, both of Tamaqua, were added as substitute custodians.

Melissa S. Pickerin, Lehighton, Joseph D. Oliver, Tamaqua, and Patricia O'Gurek, Summit Hill, were approved as substitute teachers for the district.

Nancy Grosser and Andrew Kalista, both of Barnesville, Stacey Lipton, Pottsville, and Tom Miller, Tuscarora, were approved as guest teachers for the district.

The retirement of Marie Hamm, part-time cafeteria worker, was accepted, effective at the end of Dec. 23.

The board also approved the schedule of co-curricular stipends for 2009-2010, with a cost of living adjustment (COLA) of 1.1 percent.

Out of state trips

The board approved a number of out of state trips.

Rochelle Evanousky, Rush Elementary fifth grade teacher, was granted permission to take her class on a field trip to Corning, New York, on May 26, 2010.

Stephen Ulicny, high school economics teacher, was granted approval to take the Economic Honors Class to New Yorl City on Dec. 14.

Sally LeMasters, middle school librarian, was given permission to attend Book EXPO America at the Jacob Javits Center, New York City, from May 25-27, 2010.

Superintendent Carol Makuta was granted approval to attend the Cambrium Learning Best Practices Institute in South Carolina, at a date to be determined.

The West Penn PTO's fifth grade educational trip to Baltimore, Maryland on May 13, 2010 was also approved.

Vo-Tech agreement

On split votes, the board voted to approve amendments to the Schuylkill County Area Vocational-Technical School's Articles of Agreement.

Amendments to articles 3.2 (sharing capital expenses), 4.1 (current expenses) and 4.3 (operation and maintenance of facilities) were approved on 7-2 votes, with Vice President Dr. Thomas Rottet and Director Glenn C. Behr opposed.

Article 4.2, dealing with transportation expenses, was approved on a 5-4 vote, with Rottet, Behr, Board President Larry A. Wittig and Director Bryan W. Miller opposed.

Article 5.4, which states that all measures and amendments must be passed by an unanimous vote of the 12 member districts, was passed by a 5-4 vote, with Rottet, Wittig, Behr and Director Wanda Zuber opposed.

The action was moot, however, as Makuta said several Schuylkill County Districts have already voted against the amendments, meaning that they have failed to gather the unanimous support necessary to adopt the changes.