By Rosemary K. Otzman
Shareen Barker of Monroe was hired as the Van Buren Public Schools Director of Finance at Monday’s meeting of the school board.
Barker replaces former Director Robert Carlesso, who resigned Dec. 16, after six months on the job. He was hired June 9, 2014 at a salary of $104,000, plus fringes, and began work July 1. He had a two-year contract.
Carlesso had been hired to fill the vacancy after Karen Moffitt retired as finance director.
On Monday the board gave Barker a contract effective Jan. 26 and running through June 30, 2016 for $104,500, plus fringe benefits offered to all administrators.
School Supt. Michael Van Tassel said he was extremely excited, pointing out Barker has worked in “every single job that finance has to offer. She’ll be dynamite for us.”
Barker has been finance manager of the Gibraltar School District since January 2013. Before that she was director of finance for the Southfield Public Schools since May, 2010.
Previously she was director of finance for Melvindale-Northern Allen Park Schools, business office accountant at Airport Community Schools, internal auditor/grant administration for the Taylor School District, starting off at the Taylor district as substitute secretary.
Trustee Sherry Frazier said she had concerns of Barker leaving one school district for another in the middle of the school year, but then she talked to Barker about it. She said Barker explained there was a transition in place at Gibraltar and so that allayed her concern.
Carlesso was a recent topic of discussion at a Van Buren Township board meeting.
On Dec. 16, Carlesso’s appointment to the VBT Local Development Finance Authority was confirmed by the VBT Board of Trustees.
During discussion on his appointment to the LDFA by the school district, VBT Supervisor Linda Combs said, “He didn’t want to do it. His boss forced him to do it.”
Township board members asked if they should appoint Carlesso if he didn’t want to do it, but Combs said he came to both LDFA meetings held since his appointment by the school district, so they approved his appointment.
In other school business at Monday’s meeting, the board:
• Was recognized officially for their service with a resolution from the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA), a certificate, and an orange and black beverage carrier. The board is recognized each January;
• Was advised that Supt. Van Tassel had ordered two new vans from Atchinson Ford to replace the vehicles lost in the November fire at the bus garage. The insurance awarded $19,700 for each maintenance van. The two 2015 Transit 250 Medium Roof vans will cost $28,248.28 each, so the general budget will pay for the extra $17,096.56. Van Tassel said he approved the order last week so the vans could come sooner. He said there were three bids;
• Approved the request for seventh and eighth grade English Language Arts curriculum materials for McBride Middle School to align with Common Core at a cost of $35,000. Principal John Leroy gave the presentation and ELA teacher Tracy Delfuocco added she has been at McBride for 18 years and, “We’ve never had enough books for everyone.” Now they will. Trustee Kathy Kovach commented, “They didn’t have enough books for every student? That makes me sad”;
• Approved the board policy updates to align the district with new federal and state laws;
• Heard Human Resources Director Shonta Langford-Green explain what directory information on students is available to the public and that specific information on students can be withheld by a parent/guardian;
• Approved spending $23,650 from the 2015 sinking fund to get architectural / engineering design for boiler replacements at McBride and Owen schools by Peter Basso Associates, Inc. Basso will get $19,000 and the rest is for existing equipment testing and survey services and 10% contingency. Van Tassel said he had the authority to approve this, but he would rather have Eric Dumont of Plante Moran CRESA on hand to explain the project. Dumont said the design would be done in January, bids come in the spring, and construction be done in the summer. The boilers in place are the originals and are about ten years past their end of life, he said. Board Vice President Martha Toth said the project will cost about $1 million and voters should realize they couldn’t have this project done without the sinking fund;
• Approved the retirement of Owen teacher Jane Cullen as of Jan. 18, after 16 years of service. Also approved was the new hire of Bradley Tucker as a teacher at BHS, starting Dec. 8;
• Approved the termination of Renee Baker, after two years in food service at McBride, as of Dec. 18, and the resignation of Director of Finance Robert Carlesso as of Dec. 16;
• Approved the recalls to work of paraprofessional Jack Loria to Owen starting Jan. 13; and Kathryn Etherington to food service at Rawsonville and Susan Kosikowski to food service at Edgemont, both as of Jan. 5;
• Reminded everyone the next meeting would be a work/study session at 7 p.m., Jan. 26, at the administration building. The next regular meeting will be 7 p.m. Feb. 9 at McBride Middle School; and
• Went into closed-door session to discuss contract negotiations.
During the annual organizational meeting before the regular meeting, 34th District Court Judge David Parrott swore in the three, newly elected/reelected board members.
Then the board unanimously reelected Brent Mikulski as president for the calendar year; Martha Toth as vice president; and Kevin English as secretary. Kathy Kovach was unanimously elected treasurer, a position previously held by Sherry Frazier.
By Rosemary K. Otzman