LISBON - The school board on Tuesday became at least the second in Columbiana County to reclassify the people who work at their athletic events be as part-time district employees instead of independent contractors.
The board's action was based on an Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) interpretation of recent IRS/U.S. Department of Labor directives for determining when someone is an independent contractor or an employee.
OHSAA has recommended school boards review the IRS test for itself before deciding, but OHSAA believes only referees, umpires and other game officials, and security guards, should be considered independent contractors in the future.
That means people who sell and take tickets at sporting events, official scorers, announcers and clock operators will be classified as part-time school employees, entitling them to certain benefits that come with it.
School Treasurer Cindy Altomare said the IRS test for determining whether someone should be classified a district employee is whether they are under the control of the board. She said event workers are but referees and officials are not.
School officials are worried about the impact on event workers, many of whom are parents or retirees who do this as a service and are only paid between $10 to $25 per event. Their pay will now be subject to payroll and benefit deductions totaling nearly 16 cents for every dollar they are paid.
"Most of the people are not doing it for the money," said Superintendent Don Thompson, adding some of these workers may decide "it's more trouble than it's worth."
The money to pay event workers comes from the athletic programs themselves, but Thompson said the additional expense may become financially burdensome. Altomare estimated the additional cost to the district to be $950 per year.
The board then voted to classify 16 event workers for winter athletic events as district employees.
In other business, junior-senior high school Principal Joe Siefke reported the school was recently recognized for achieving its first "excellent" rating on the state report card. He said over the past three years the school has made continuous improvements toward meeting report card criteria, achieving 18 of the 19 indicators this year and 98 of 120 points on the academic performance index.
"We're pretty proud of that," he said.
Siefke attributed the improvement to four factors: instituting longer class periods for reading and mathematics; teachers adding 30 minutes to their work day, with the time spent on professional development; hiring intervention tutors; and starting a program to put iPads in the hands of sophomores.
"You think of all of the things we've done the last four years, it's amazing," he said.