The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 17, 2014

Westmont school board hires new superintendent

Frank Sojak

JOHNSTOWN — The Westmont Hilltop school board on Monday adopted a 2014-15 budget that retains current taxes; accepted the resignation of its longtime superintendent; and hired a superintendent who will save the district a sizable sum of money by doubling as the business manager.

The board unanimously approved a $20,565,890 spending plan for the  next term. The budget lists revenues at $20,720,171.

It is the third consecutive year without a tax increase.

Donald B. Irwin Jr., business manager and assistant superintendent, was named to fill the shoes of Superintendent Susan Anderson, who resigned at the meeting. Irwin said the administration and the board have worked collaboratively to reduce administrative and noninstructional positions to get expenditures in balance with projected revenues.

Overall, the budget strikes a responsible balance between investing in students to provide a first-rate educational program and living within its budgetary means, Irwin said.

The budget eliminates two administrative positions, including combining  the business manager’s position into the superintendent’s position, he said.

The budget also includes the reduction of one teaching position, three maintenance positions and one clerical position, all through attrition, he said.

The budgetary savings total more than $700,000 annually, saving the equivalent of five mills of tax on the already overburdened property owners, he said.

The board accepted the resignation of Anderson effective Aug. 15. Anderson served 12 years as superintendent and had a total of 39 years of service in the district.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to have served you,” she said.

Board President Michele Trevorrow said the board wishes Anderson all the happiness in the world.

Irwin, who will receive $130,000 a year for five years for the dual roles of superintendent and business manager, said he is excited about his new job.

“I think that the district has a lot of challenges ahead,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working collaboratively with this board, the administration, the professional staff and parents to overcome the challenges.

“I think Susan has been a great educator for the district. I think her personal touch will be missed by all those with whom she has interacted.”

The board approved floating about $10 million in bonds over 20 years to complete a capital improvement project.

The board is planning to close the deteriorating middle school and add on to the elementary school and high school to house the additional students.

Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at