Leechburg Area plans to hire business manager |

Leechburg Area plans to hire business manager

The Leechburg Area School Board is expected to contract a new business manager next month.

The position held by Mark Lukacs will be vacated at the end of November, when he retires after six years serving the district. He is retiring so he can spend more time with his family and focus on his personal life, he said.

“For the past 20 years, I’ve served various administrative roles and have probably attended more than 400 school board meetings,” said Lukacs, 62. “It’s strange to think I probably will never be a part of another one. All I know for sure is that the time I spent working for and with the people of this district has been time well spent. It’s been a privilege.”

Officials thought they found Lukacs’ replacement last month in William Reilly, who retired from the Freeport Area School District last year after 39 years as its business manager.

The board rescinded their offer to Reilly on Wednesday after it was discovered that his contract would present a problem with his benefits plan from the state’s Public School Employees’ Retirement System, according to Superintendent Ian Magness.

“It is in no way a disparagement to Mr. Reilly that the offer is being rescinded,” Magness said. “He is more than qualified. Unfortunately, we just have to explore other options.”

District officials had intended to contract Reilly’s services at a rate of $60 per hour through June 15, at which time they’d decide whether to continue contracting the service or hire a full-time business manager. Magness said the district still intends to contract the service, which offers “significant savings” in comparison to hiring someone full time.

The board is expected to fill the position at its Dec. 3 meeting.

Natural gas

Officials are projecting nearly a 14 percent reduction in natural gas costs through 2017.

The school board approved an extension of its contract with Direct Energy for natural gas services through an ARIN Intermediate Unit consortium.

The savings, according to Magness, stem from a drop in the price of natural gas from when the contract with Direct Energy was approved. The rate will remain fixed through the life of the new contract, which runs from September 2015 to August 2017.

The extension saves the district about $1 for every 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas used. Officials could not estimate the total savings from the current contract.

A proposal to the district from another energy company waits in the wings.

EQT Production Co. approached Leechburg Area this summer about drilling from an off-site location beneath 8.3 acres of district land at Main and Giron streets.

The subsurface lease agreement would yield for the district a $26,500 signing bonus and 18 percent monthly royalties on the sale of all oil, gas and other hydrocarbons produced from underneath the property, which formerly held the West Leechburg Elementary School.

The board delayed its decision to approve the lease twice, most recently for 90 days in September, amid growing health and safety concerns from a few board members and area residents.

Magness said he expects the board to make a decision “one way or the other” shortly after the 90-day period expires next month.

Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or [email protected].

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