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Group tells board Schimek should stay

By Staff | Apr 27, 2009

The United South Central School Board held to its bottom line of making cuts Tuesday night to trim $352,000 from next year’s budget.

While several positions were on the agenda for elimination, more than 20 people packed the meeting room in hopes of saving an administrator’s job.

Speaking on behalf of the group, former varsity wrestling coach Eric Wagner read a prepared statement in support of Brent Schimek, activities and transportation director.

Wagner told the board they have failed to adequately plan what to do once Schimek’s position is cut.

“I’m not telling you, I’m warning you. Don’t eliminate him. We are going to be in big trouble if we do,” says Wagner.

Schimek’s total annual salary package is around $93,000.

He also serves as dean of students in the high school and director of community education.

In their statement, the group says Schimek has gone “above and beyond” his duties to make sure the school’s activities run smoothly and uninterrupted. They also wonder who is going to handle the ‘behind the scenes’ duties the public is unaware of.

In detail, Wagner outlined why the group has doubts that cutting the position will result in the savings claimed by the board.

“We feel the decision of the board needs to be in the best interest of the entire school district and not based on personal agendas,” says Wagner. “This needs to be a true business decision.”

Interim Superinten-dent John Widvey says unlike the private sector, a legal process must be followed when cutting a public employee to ensure their rights are protected.

Like other districts across the state, USC must make budget cuts due to a decline in enrollment and state aid.

USC officials have implemented a plan aimed at getting the district out of statutory operating debt. It called for cutting five paraprofessionals and a probationary teacher. Another paraprofessional, slated to be let go, submitted their resignation.

Also, four teachers and Schimek were placed on unrequested leave of absence.

Board chair Christie Wetzel says she appreciates the group’s support for Schimek because of his commitment to his job.

“It’s a budget issue. None of us like to make cuts,” says Wetzel. “We are just abiding by what the law says we have to do. We are following proper protocol.”

Employees placed on ‘unrequested leave’ could be recalled if the district’s financial condition improves.

Board member Steve Navara says in 20 years as a coach he has worked with three athletic directors and Schimek has been the best.

“I have some experience. Mr. Schimek is someone who has gone the extra mile,” says Navara.

He asked the board to offer Schimek a modified contract if funding sources provide any leeways in the future.

On a 3-1 vote, the board placed Schimek on unrequested leave. Navara voted no.