District fills business director job

The new administrator's salary was not acceptable to one board member.
AUSTINTOWN -- The school district has filled a new position for director of business services, though the vote to hire him was not unanimous.
The school board voted 4-1 Wednesday to hire Thomas Hura, a former vice president of administration for the Henn companies in Lordstown.
The dissenting voter was board member David Ritchie, who said he had nothing against Hura but questioned his salary of 60,000.
The school board had talked in months leading up to the hiring about a salary of 50,000 to 55,000. "We were supposed to do it for 55,000, and tonight, we're not doing it for 55,000," Ritchie said.
Ritchie voted at a meeting in August against creating the position. He said he would rather see an assistant superintendent in the district because that administrator would have more qualifications and would be able to fill in for Superintendent Doug Heuer.
The board eliminated the position of assistant superintendent three years ago to save money. Board President Michael Creatore said at the August meeting that there are other administrators in the district who are qualified to fill in for Heuer.
Central purchasing
Creatore said Wednesday that he believes it's important to have an administrator to handle central purchasing for the district. "Our superintendent needs to be working on curriculum, not reviewing purchase orders," he said.
Hura's responsibilities will also include writing grants, said board member Traci Morse Merlo and Heuer.
"He will save us at least his salary in the first year," Creatore said.
The board hired Hura on a two-year contract but did not specify a salary in the second year. Heuer said the second-year salary will depend on Hura's performance evaluation and his grant-writing efforts.
A resident at the meeting insisted the board explain why his salary is now 60,000 instead of 55,000, and Heuer said the increase happened during the interview process.
Heuer said that in newspaper ads for the position, the salary wasn't listed. He said it was on the district's Web site, but Hura apparently didn't see it there. Heuer said Hura negotiated for his salary, and because he was the top candidate, Heuer asked board members individually if raising the salary would be acceptable. Hura's contract is effective Nov. 27.
New transportation center
In other business, the board approved letting the engineering firm MS Consultants proceed with plans for the new transportation center on the district's main campus off Idaho Road.
The center is estimated to cost 2.8 million. Funds from the sale of the old Austintown Middle School on Mahoning Avenue will pay for the new center, which the school district hopes it can use by the time the new middle school on Raccoon Road opens next year.
Anthony Hayek of MS Consultants said that the center will be finished by the end of 2007, but the asphalt parking pad for the buses will be in place by August. The plan also includes the widening of the road that goes through the campus, and a new sidewalk with streetlights that will lead from behind the stadium and along that road to the library on South Raccoon Road. With those additional projects, the total cost is around 3.1 million.

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