Skip to main content

Lehighton to save $400K on staff

Published June 26. 2019 01:06PM

Spirited debate in recent months will culminate Thursday with Lehighton Area School District’s board of directors voting on its 2019-20 budget during a special meeting starting at 6:30 p.m.

Since the last finance committee meeting last Wednesday, when the district’s projected deficit stood at $4.47 million, several retirements and resignations have dropped that number by over $400,000.

“Coming in to today, the recent retirements and resignations would cut the proposed budget expenditures by $303,691,” Lehighton Business Administrator Patricia Denicola said.

“Just today, we had another tentative resignation and if that would happen, we could realign that position and lower the budget by another $100,971.”

At the school board’s meeting on Monday, the board, by an 8-1 vote, passed a memorandum of understanding with the Lehighton Area Education Association, the union representing the district’s teachers, which amends retirement benefits in the current collective bargaining agreement. The memorandum pertains to any professional staff member in Lehighton with at least 15 years employment who, by Monday, submitted an irrevocable letter of intent to retire by June 30, In exchange for getting a cash payment for any unused sick days, those individuals could elect to trade those sick days in for extended coverage on the district’s health insurance plan.

Fifty unused sick days will get an employee one year of “employee only coverage” in the district’s medical and dental plans at no contribution cost to the employee, while 100 unused sick days will provide for one year of coverage for an employee and their spouse.

The coverage would continue until the earliest of the following occurs:

• A retiree exhausts all unused sick days

• Reaches age 65

• Becomes eligible for Medicare

• Dies.

Director David Bradley, who cast the lone vote against the MOU, said the district was trading a known value for an unknown value.

“This sounds like a golden parachute,” Bradley said.

Though district officials said they don’t know what the level of claims will be in a given year, there is a maximum liability as stop loss insurance kicks in at $65,000 per person on the plan.

“Under this agreement, individuals are, in our estimation, retiring earlier than they normally would have,” Denicola said. “That is giving us a savings in the time of a budgetary gap that we need because we can absorb these positions within our current staffing levels.”

Bradley also questioned district officials over whether individual members of the union indicated they would take retirement if the changes were passed by the board.

“We did not know how many individual members would take this,” Denicola said. “We looked at an overview of how many people would be eligible for a full retirement and used a best estimate as to how many of them would participate in this incentive.”


Lehighton’s current millage rate is 47.88. The district hasn’t raised taxes since 2014-15, spending down its fund balance in the process. It has the option this year to raise taxes up to 3.2 percent based on the state’s Act 1 index. A 1-mill increase would result in a $39.63 annual increase to the average Lehighton taxpayer and generate $379,578 in income. A 1.5 mill increase would be a $59.45 annual increase to the average taxpayer and generate $569,367 in income.

In all budget presentations to this point, the district has not included a tax increase in its projections.

Approximately 4,500 property owners will receive the homestead/farmstead reduction on their property tax bill from state gambling money, estimated to be $266.31.

Wow 100 sick days. Does anyone see a problem with that? I mean they get the whole summer off why would they need any sick days? I have never had any sick days at any of my jobs its time these teachers learn how the rest of the world lives. The next contract needs some major adjustments.
A teacher is a salaried position, no?

Salaried positions usually have "sick days"... Considering salaried positions get paid whether you are at work or not, they build in sick days... usually between 8 and 15 a year depending on where you work and how long you've been there. I've seen people get as many as 30 a year.
Since the stop-loss insurance would mitigate any overage in this deal, why isn't the current stop-loss insurance being used to mitigate the 3.5 million in overages in health care claims that were filed and reportedly put the district in this dire financial position? With the current insurance plan, the district is responsible for the first $70,000.00. $5,000.00 more than the new plan that takes effect on July 1. So again I ask, why are we paying out (or have paid out previously) an extra 3.5 million when we have stop-loss insurance at this time. That IS the purpose of paying for stop-loss insurance.
As far as sick days go, many corporations are changing their policies on sick days. While I was never allowed to carry over sick days from one year to the next, last year I had 120 hours of sick time available to me (3 weeks) and this year I have 48 hours (6 days). One of the downsides of not being a union member.
Dear Community,

Good evening. A balance budget was submitted by board members to the President and the board.

It has a very slight reduction in taxes, and does not take funds from the general fund to balance the budget. It has takes only $40,936,449 and spends slightly less, $40,886,449, leaving a $50,000 buffer.

If adopted, a detailed monthly report will be provided to the stakeholders. A bounty to be paid for any additional opportunities for reductions in waste and corruption. The savings will be accumulated and rebated to the stakeholders in June of 2020.

This proposal was blocked by the feckless five. The rubber-stampers are coming for your wallets and their plan pads the pockets of their friends and relatives with a 10% increase in yearly spending. Since the state and fed funds are fixed, that all comes from your pockets. A massive tax increase would be needed to balanced their budget. The overspending and miss management is at the heart of the problems.

The balanced budget released again today and takes into account the new information from Monday regarding retirement and resignations.

Government actions taken by Larry Stern, Wayne Wentz, Steve Holland, Andrew Yenser and Rita Spinelli show they firmly believe in a abdication of their authority and responsibility.

They appear to have the fox running the hen house.

LASD still has a punch list of items for the permanent Elementary Center occupancy permit. The Borough allowed the district children to be in the building all year as a favor since the punch list was not directly considered safety related. Shameless on both parties that a year has passed and the punch list still exists. Back scratchers just reveal more corruption in the system.

When I tried to respect the code and nail the jello to the wall, the feckless five abdicated more authority to the Superintendent without a firm deadline, or any expected completion date.

Ever wonder who is running the district?
Is it Wayne? Larry? Andy Yenser? Rita? Steve Holland maybe. Or perhaps someone else is leading these rubes down the primrose path.

Why would the five take the dignitary spots, allow claims of immunity and welcome all this waste and corruption, hiding the truth? Why did the PSEA-PAC and and Reach Committee spend so much in this campaign? Is it the pending union contracts?
The staff costs are north of $30M.

Consider asking any of the five why a $44,000 salaried employee actually costs the district $82,647.58? See if unkee can give you the break down.

Attend the meeting, by blunt and bold. End the waste and corruption.


Citizen David F..Bradley Sr.
There is a lot of vague "they" and "them" in your statements. Who are the friends and relatives benefiting from your "rubber stampers". Are verifiable names available for review?

You also allude to a master mind behind the board pulling the strings. I'm assuming you're alluding to the unions behind the PACs you mentioned, and if not is there a name and verifiable information on this allusive Keyser Soze?

Isn't the $82,647 a combined total of salary and medical benefits?

After watching the vague responses provided by the board on various spending and work flow procedures during the 06/24 meeting, I agree with and support an outside audit of the districts spending despite the cost and even if in the end it doesn't find any issues, but "they" and "them" bogey man posturing will never sit well with me. If there is currently hard evidence of corruption and wrong doing then present it and let the courts handle the matter.

Citizen David, the truth is this: You are more arrogant than Napoleon. This is also why you will never be re-elected. Just look at what happened in the Primaries. Maybe, just maybe, if you tried to address the issues you felt were important without berating and belittling members of the community, you would be heard. Unfortunately I don't think that will ever happen. Also, proofreading your own comments would be to your advantage.
Taxes will be going up to the maximum. Guaranteed. The feckless 5 liberals will see to that.

Good morning. Just look at the board family relationships between Andy Yenser, Wayne Wentz and Larry Stern. Then track the wives, and family members hired by the district, and check past board members. Don't be nieve, this board five are all about the money grab and not about the students and stakeholders.

A balanced budget with a slight tax decrease was offered and blocked. This board is a ego trip for dignitaries wanting power to block fiscal responsibility. Many do not read or understand their actual duties under the law.

As far as a bogeyman, who needs a bogeyman when we have Larry Stern apparently thinking the administration he was elected to oversee creates the budget. Watch the meeting. If that isn't the dumbest thing I ever heard, oh wait, we should make a list. To be fair, Rita. Wayne, Yenser, and Holland all had some doozies.

Maybe we should ask the stakeholders.
What was the most stupid, irresponsible, asinine statement?
Rita's Downsize, Wayne's Kiss my A** didn't read study wife's email erasures vote to buy a tractor that cost about as much as a home, so many for Wayne, and Yenser's treasurer comment, Holland's didn't read study or have a copy, stadium lights under the stands, need for the home costing tractor failures of occupancy permit on the center, Stern adlbication of authority claim for immunity met with Superintendent the boss of his wife, the list is too long for here. We can create one so the town can properly review the action of our government.

Then consider who is hired and why they are hired. Also, look as whio is not hired and ask, why? Why is the board blocked from seeing all applications to a position? Why was a veteran applicant described by the Assistant to the Superintendent as full of human fecies (feces), yes he spelled it wrong and improperly asked EOE questions by other members of our staff? Proper oversight is needed.

This district is unprofessional, it is more of a money machine hosting a low graduation rates, excessive spending, all without the proper results.

A board of directors have the responsibility to fix the district ills, protect the teachers reputation by letting them teach, and provide educational benefits for the students without special needs students hiring an attorney so the district can hire an attorney to fight. Spending money on attorney fighting educational benefits as compared to providing educational benefits is a total waste. It was removed from my budget that netted a tax reduction. LASD has been corrupted by a feckless board. Profiteering on the back of students and the community has to end.

Corruption is not always illegal. It is not illegal to be stupid or act stupid. Remember when Wayne Wentz, Larry and others raised the taxes when they had a surplus, massive fund balance? Pretty stupid right? And it cost the people and businesses more than today's money, they then encumbered the town with massive debts. Some say they were dumb, others like the architects, banks, and construction teams may say they were geniuses. After all to form a block vote of local 'nice giys' to play patsy on a small local government board so the benefactors can hock up generations with debts with escalating interest rate, spending $40M every year on the education of about 2500 student is pretty amazing. Oh, now it is $44M.

Blind-trust, rubber stamp. To find five people without the character to Honor their Oath, and act the shill is not easy. Most people have a spine, a committment to the truth, and character.l, a responsibility to their neighbor.

This town is being taken to the cleaners by plausible deniability, and a blind-trusting, rubber-stamping board of zealots. It is as if they fear the Oath of Office act with Fidelity.

In less than one year, actually from about March to June, the cost of running a district went up about 10% and the number students in the district was stable. Go figure.

This small tax increase is about one tenth of the current shortfall. If this government told the people truth and let the people speak, we could correct then course of tax and spend.


Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.
What do you get when Director Yenser fails to do his duty as treasurer, Rubber-stamping Rita chooses to ignore common sense, wasteful Wayne Wentz a veteran that fought in foreign lands to defend the constitution yet fails to uphold it locally, Larry Stern's claims of immunity and Steve Holland's proposal to spend money on lighting up the student's bleachers yet fails to give students their rights in the classrooms?

Well, a tax increase and the Lehighton Area School District Government, of, by and for the administration. Five abdicating much of their authority to the very people they were elected to oversee in spite of their Oath of Office.


Citizen David F. Bradley, Sr.

Classified Ads

Event Calendar


September 2019


Twitter Feed