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Lackawanna's interim superintendent of schools will be paid at an annual rate of $70,403, the Board of Education decided Wednesday night.

The salary is $1,000 higher than the next highest paid administrator and is the same as Nicholas D. Korach was previously paid as acting superintendent.

Korach was named interim superintendent following the Dec. 2 death of Dr. Thomas F. McDonnell and had been acting superintendent for several months while McDonnell was ill.

Korach went back to his old job as principal of Truman Elementary School after McDonnell returned to his post in September.

The board is expected to form a search committee for a permanent superintendent next month.

The board Wednesday rededicated the schools to the pursuit of excellence McDonnell sought and directed that all school flags fly at half-staff for 30 days in his memory, under a memorial read by Board President Helen Chmiel.

A report on state testing presented by Nellie B. King, principal of secondary curriculum and instruction, indicated generally high marks in meeting state standards.

However, Sue Murphy, vice president of the teachers' union, pointed out that the failure rate for 8th grade reading has increased and said students are not getting the extra help they need because the district isn't hiring enough teachers.

"We need more teachers to address the problems. Please do something," she said.

There was no response from the board, but after the meeting the principal for special programs, M. Elaine Mandy, took issue with Ms. Murphy's statement.

Mrs. Mandy said only one special education teacher was not replaced, not three as Ms. Murphy said, and students "are still getting all the services."

On another matter, a request by secretaries for two extra days off over the Christmas holidays and by other non-teaching employees for four extra days off was tabled.

Since the board isn't scheduled to meet again until after the holidays, tabling the request has the same effect as denying it.

"We didn't want to say no because they deserve the time off, but we can't afford to give it to them," board member Stephen Bokan, who moved to table the matter, said after the meeting.

In other action, the board:

Agreed to pay the expenses of high school student Nawel Thabit to attend the Congressional Youth Leaders' Conference in Washington, March 10-15.

Appointed Anne Burnicki as National Junior Honor Society adviser.

Accepted intent-to-retire notices from teachers Lucille Knapp, Theresa Holtz, Patricia Moore, Mary Sennikoff and Mildred Mihajlovich.

Directed the superintendent to look into the feasibility of running an adult golf instruction program at Truman School.

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