YATESVILLE -- The Pittston Area School Board voted 7-2 to hire Christy Savokinas as the new director of technology and online learning coordinator during Tuesday's regular board meeting.
Board members Robert Linskey and Marilyn Starna voted against, while Kent Bratlee, John Donahue, Richard Gorzkowski, Anthony Guariglia, Joseph Kelly, Bruce Knick and Charles Sciandra voted in favor.
While Savokinas' credentials were not called into question by any of the board members, Linskey and Starna took issue with the hiring process itself.
Before the vote to hire Savokinas, the board voted to amend the title of the position from technology integrator/online learning coordinator to director of technology and online learning coordinator. That vote broke down along the same lines.
The change in terminology was disconcerting to Linskey, who complained that this change was not mentioned to him before the night's meeting. He recommended the board table the hiring and submit a new advertisement of the opening under the amended job title.
Starna likewise objected and said she was under the impression the amended title represented a different position from the one the board originally had voted to advertise.
Board Solicitor Joseph Saporito said he recommended the amended title on the grounds that it more accurately encompassed the scale of the duties Savokinas will be undertaking. She will be the sole authority responsible for technological learning policy and practice. That, and her $75,000 yearly salary, would have remained the case regardless of the actual job title.
Saporito further said that conversations with representatives from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association confirmed that the amended title was more accurate and therefore proper.
Board President Sciandra, after imploring Saporito and Superintendent Michael Garzella to provide detailed explanations of the title change in hopes of placating Linskey, dismissed his argument as purely one of semantics.
The district spends about $800,000 each year funding the online tuition of children within the district who opt for online education over traditional schooling. District officials hope to significantly reduce that cost by enhancing the district's own online learning capabilities.
After the meeting, Savokinas expressed great faith and confidence in district educators. She plans to use current district personnel to teach online courses to students from the communities that comprise the district.
In other matters, the board voted to hire attorney John Dean from the Elliott Greenleaf Law Firm as a specialist for upcoming contract negotiations. Linskey voiced concern about this move, stating that he was unaware of Dean until the night of the school board meeting.
Dean was hired by an 8-1 vote, with Linskey being the sole opposition.
The school board's next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 12.