The husband of a Pettisville school employee said administrators had threatened her over her attendance at a Pettisville School Board meeting.
Max Aeschliman, husband of Brenda Aeschliman, school cafeteria manager, appeared with his wife at the Monday, May 22 board meeting.
“I want to know why my wife was told that it was not in her best interest to attend any more board meetings,” M. Aeschliman said.
“I thought this was a public meeting and anyone could attend.”
Brenda Aeschliman attended the March and April board meetings, along with several of the cafeteria staff.
Steve Switzer, superintendent, told M. Aeschliman, “That’s not what was said.”
“Yes, it is what you said, and I don’t appreciate my wife being threatened,” M. Aeschliman said.
Chris Lee, district treasurer, spoke up and said, “I was also at the meeting, and what was meant was that the cafeteria manager is part of management, and at the end of the day, she needs to make sure she is on the side of management.”
Later in the meeting, when it was time for the superintendent to give the district report to the board, Switzer turned to the Aeschlimans and said, “I apologize if I came off as a bit gruff earlier in the meeting. I am disappointed that what was said was perceived as a threat.”
At issue is a request from the cafeteria staff to the school board asking the board to consider including cafeteria workers in the district health insurance plan.
Aeschliman is covered by the policy, but the cooks are not.
At the March meeting, Amy Marshall, a cafeteria worker, asked the board to consider extending health insurance coverage to the cafeteria staff.
She presented information that showed Pettisville is the only district that does not include cafeteria staff in the health insurance program.
She also said Pettisville bus drivers, who work fewer hours, are offered health insurance.
Marshall asked the board for a decision by May 31.
John King, a board member, said at the time that shouldn’t be a problem.
But the board has had no public discussion about offering health insurance to the cafeteria staff since the March meeting.
Following the regular board meeting, the board went into executive session for the stated purpose of discussing “appointment, employment, and compensation of an employee(s).”
There was no action taken following the one-hour private meeting.
There are four job titles in the Pettisville school cafeteria: one cafeteria manager, B. Aeschliman; one Cook I, who works more than six hours a day; one Cook II, who works 5 3/4 hours a week; and two Cook IIIs, who work 5 1/4 hours a week.
B. Aeschliman told this newspaper the cafeteria staff members who waited during the private session were told following the meeting that, “Cooks II and III will not be offered health insurance at this time.”
The meeting ended abruptly following the closed-door session with no further discussion.
A person at the meeting wanted to ask a question, but was cut off and the meeting was adjourned.
B. Aeschliman said no mention was made about the position of Cook I, but she assumes that meant that insurance would be offered for that position. She was unsure whether that had been the case in the past or not.
In a Tuesday, May 23 phone interview, Switzer said Linda Grime, Cook I, who notified the board of her intention to retire at the end of the school year, was offered health insurance, but turned it down.
Switzer said in the phone interview Grime would be replaced, and the person would be offered insurance.
He confirmed that Cooks II and III will not be offered insurance, based on the number of hours worked.
He said Cooks II and III have never been part of the school health insurance program, then said they may have been in the past, “but that’s ancient history.”
In another matter related to the cafeteria, Kathy Gruenhagen, a Cook III, has requested to be considered as a retire-return employee.
Under retire-return, Gruenhagen would be able to collect her pension and continue to work and receive a paycheck.
The board scheduled a public meeting on that intention for Monday, June 26, 8 pm, in the school conference room.
The June and July board meeting dates and times were changed due to the required timeline for employment of retired individuals.
The new meeting dates are Monday, June 26, and Monday, July 24. Both meetings will begin at 8 p.m. in the conference room.–D.J. Neuenschwander