AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Austintown School Board approved Superintendent Vince Colaluca’s contract Wednesday evening, even though about 2,000 people signed a petition to have him fired.
The board decided to keep Colaluca by a 4-1 vote. Board member Harold Porter was the only one to say, “Absolutely no.”
Colaluca’s contract expires at the end of 2017. His new contract will run from August 1, 2017 to July 31, 2020.
The superintendent will get a $2,000 raise, spread over the three years.
Colaluca sat patiently as people addressed the board of education Wednesday, urging members not to renew his contract.
Lori Stewart said the decision disgusts and infuriates her.
“The lack of morality, the ethics, the bullying, the dictator type of application…it’s not flowing,” Jim Murphy said.
On the other hand, co-owner of the Youngstown Phantoms Aafke Loney urged the board to renew Colaluca’s contract. He said the superintendent worked with the hockey team to get some of its players into Fitch High School.
“He went out of his way to help us help our hockey players to be able to do schooling.”
Austintown’s newest school board member, Alex Benyo, had the most to say about the decision.
“As a board, we are comfortable with Mr. Colaluca. Now the part is for us to come to the community, bring everybody together and decide what ‘good’ looks like for Austintown.”
Colaluca spoke last.
“I really do love where I’m at. I think this is a great district and a great place to work.”
He said he will continue to “look internally and self-reflect” amidst all the criticism.
“That’s why I apologized to some community members that felt that I may have treated them inappropriately, or that I may have represented something I didn’t mean to say.”
One of the complaints the group of concerned parents had was Colaluca’s open enrollment policy, which would allow students living outside of Austintown to attend the schools. Some said it was “out of control” and there needed to be a limit on the number of open enrollment students.
Colaluca hoped to address their concerns with a new plan he presented to the board during a work session before Wednesday’s meeting.
The plan includes three changes from Austintown’s current policy on open enrollment.
Under the new plan, no new high school students will be allowed to open enroll.
Kindergarten through eighth grade will also be limited to 60 open enrollment students per grade.
The new plan allows students who are already open enrolled to remain in Austintown schools.
Currently, the district has 795 open enrolled students. Colaluca estimated the changes to the policy would drop open enrollment to 714 next year.
The board has yet to approve any open enrollment plan.
There is a public meeting on Austintown’s open enrollment scheduled for January 25.