Keystone Central School Board Members Hold “Retreat”

BALD EAGLE TOWNSHIP – A longtime Keystone Central School Board member says a Monday board session with two yet-to-be-sworn in members was a retreat-style event. Region VI representative Charlie Rosamilia said the gathering, held at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the district administration building, had been cleared with district solicitor David Lindsay.

The get-together had not been publicly announced. Rosamilia said no votes were taken and it was a general discussion for the benefit of two newly elected board members, Jennifer Bottorf and Eric Probert, both to be sworn in Thursday night.

Therecord-online learned of the meeting on Monday but a reporter was unable to gain access to the administration building. Later board vice-president Jeff Johnston confirmed the meeting. Johnston did not attend, stating, “Since this meeting was called neither by the president (Butch Knauff) or vice-president (Johnston) of the board and that I had no knowledge as to what topics were being discussed, I chose note to attend in order to not run the risk of possibly violating the Sunshine law.”

The law prevents governmental boards from holding sessions where a majority is present without previously advertising the meeting and opening it to the public. In the school district’s case it would take five of nine current board members to be present. The Monday “retreat” was attended by four current board members, one short of a quorum; they were Rosamilia, Billy Rupert, Debra Smith and Tracy Smith, in addition to Bottorf and Probert.

Rosamilia reiterated that he had received prior clearance from district solicitor Lindsay and noted the district has held retreats in the past for discussion purposes. He said time was spent answering questions from the newly elected board members.

Current board members not present on Monday, in addition to Johnston, were Roger Elling, Knauff and Wayne Koch. Knauff’s term on the board will end upon Probert’s swearing-in Thursday.

District superintendent Kelly Hastings said she “was not contacted about nor invited to any meetings.” Hastings in August had informed the board she would be stepping down in March of next year, citing personal reasons. The get-together was announced to board members through an email sent from the district offices last Friday.

The district is faced with cutting up to $10 million from its current budget for next year and a public discussion on the topic is scheduled for the Central Mountain High School cafeteria Thursday at 5 p.m., prior to the annual reorganizational meeting.