Philipsburg-Osceola transportation job again spurs disagreement

Philipsburg-Osceola Area School District board member Jim Verbeck is not giving up his opposition to a new transportation director position.

He was the lone voice of dissent at a special voting session earlier this month when the board approved the position that has been discussed since December. The board hired Amanda Taylor for the job, which takes much of the day-to-day work of coordinating busing and other transporation off the plate of business manager Michael Conte.

Verbeck came back to Tuesday’s regular board meeting ready to revisit the issue. Last time, he faced off with Superintendent Gregg Paladina, calling the move the kind of thing that would have happened under his controversial predecessor. This time, he took aim at Conte.

“If you’re not going to do the job, resign,” he said, before Paladina and solicitor Brian Marshall both cut him off, calling the remarks inappropriate.

Conte said that transportation is just one of many items that fall under his responsibility and job description.

“The district gave me 10 pounds of potatoes , and a 5-pound sack to put them in,” he said. The new hire will help carry that load.

“You always look for better and more efficent ways to run a business,” said Conte.

Other board members stressed that the newly created position is actually just a newly created job description for a job that has been done, under Conte’s supervision, by multiple employees throughout his tenure. One employee did the job full time, another later did it part time, and the new position was designed to maximize the effectiveness of the work.

“Ultimately, we’re going to have a better product for the people,” said Paladina.

Verbeck remained unconvinced.

“We have two transportation people,” he said. “We’re paying two people to do one job.”

He pointed to board member Todd Jeffries. “Todd, if you quit driving (a) truck, do you still get paid?”

“He’s still driving a $28 million budget,” Paladina defended Conte.