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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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The Oregon school board has not decided whether to pay board member Diana Gadus for her time to attend a leadership conference in Columbus on April 13 and April 14.

Gadus went to the two day conference with board member Carol Molnar.

The board already agreed to cover hotel, meals and transportation costs for Gadus and Molnar to attend the conference. But Gadus wants to be paid for her time. Molnar does not.

The district has a policy of paying board members for their time to attend meetings regarding professional development. But board member Jeff Ziviski said there has never been a board member who has asked to be paid for their time at such a meeting.

Ziviski also said the board follows a process of approving expenditures before scheduled conferences.

“We should follow the same process as teachers, administrators and others,” Ziviski said at a meeting last month.

“This is strictly board policy that allows for this,” said Treasurer Jane Fruth.

According to our own policies, there is money in the reserves set aside for these kind of things, but it’s set up where the board could choose what we felt had value and what we felt didn’t have value. So in order to take advantage of this, it would be brought up before the board, usually at the beginning of the year, to sit down and pick what had the most value,” said board member P.J. Kapfhammer.

“The problem with that is we don’t know what the conferences are going to be at the beginning of the year,” said Fruth.

Ziviski asked Fruth if the district paid for Gadus’s registration and conference fees.

Fruth said the district paid for both board members’ registration, conference fees and hotel rooms.

Ziviski said the board at its first meeting had approved $5,000 for a board fund.

“The board never identified what it would be for,” said Ziviski. “I went to kindergarten registration and I went to a kindergarten information meeting and I spoke to parents about the district. I would want to be reimbursed for that? That’s ludicrous. Never has a board member fleeced the district like this.”

Former board member Cathy Johnson traveled throughout the state to attend conferences, but never asked to be paid for her time, he said.

“I don’t want us breaking the law,” said Board President Dick Gabel. “I would like to have the treasurer look at it, bring it to the superintendent. If he’s got a problem with it, then he can bring it to me, and we can get another board person to see how we can pay this the easiest way, just to make sure we’re doing it legally.”

“I don’t like the fact we’re going to take it to you. This is something that should be discussed by every board member,” said Kapfhammer.

Fruth did not know the amount that Gadus was requesting and said she would have the information at a future meeting.

“You’re asking us to approve something and we don’t even know what it is,” said Kapfhammer.

The board voted 3-1 against a motion to approve compensation for Gadus, with Molnar voting in favor.

Gabel said the matter could still be brought up and voted on at the next board meeting.

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