Gary Kestner, a new member of the Ohio County Board of Education, may ruffle some feathers among fellow board members and school administrators with what they may view as a nitpicking attitude. But taxpayers should be pleased with Kestner.
During their meeting this week, board members voted to hire a man to work in the school system's maintenance department. Kestner abstained from that vote.
He told other board members he had some concerns about the position. One involved the employee's rate of pay.
As it was explained to board members, the employee will handle four types of work. He will be a painter, truck driver, general maintenance worker and mason. Kestner pointed out the man's pay scale will be based on masonry work, at a higher rate than for the other three tasks - even though only part of the job is masonry. That "isn't fiscally responsible for the taxpayer," Kestner said.
The difference between what the new worker will be paid as a mason and what he would have received had his rate been based on all four tasks he will perform may be only a few hundred dollars a year. In the context of the board's $58.6 million budget this year, that may sound insignificant.
And, again, some may wonder why Kestner even brought up the matter.
But one of the duties of school board members is to ensure taxpayers' money is spent as effectively as possible to educate children. Paying attention to the details of spending, rather than acting as a rubber stamp for school administrators, is one way to do that. Kestner is to be commended for asking questions and attempting to be a good steward of taxpayers' money and a conscientious representative of the voters who put him on the board.