Mountaineer football coaching position open

First Posted: 12/8/2014

DALLAS — Dallas School Board members approved the opening of the school district’s head football coaching position on Monday night with board member Charles Preece voting against the decision and board member Larry Schuler voting “no,” saying he felt he was not adequately informed in regard to the matter.

Robert Zaruta, named the school’s head coach in February 2012, said the team had fully accomplished its goals during the 2014 season which included a winning record (6-2), making district playoffs and instilling a championship mindset on and off the field.

He asked the board to simply, “Let me get back to work.”

David Simpson, speaking for the school’s gridiron club, said parents had approached the administration regarding concerns about Zaruta’s coaching style.

“One example is that players didn’t view game films before playing Crestwood and then came out at a disadvantage,” said Simpson.

He said winning teams improve throughout the season, but that was not the case at Dallas this season.

He also said that, with only 35 members on the team, safety was at issue.

Simpson also cited inconsistency in the entire coaching staff, saying many paid and unpaid assistants left their positions during Zaruta’s tenure.

Zaruta challenged Simpson’s statement, saying that many of his staff had moved out of the area because of employment opportunities.

Zaruta said he had not been informed of any problems until 14 days after the season had ended.

Parent Mark Heltzel asked the board, “Please don’t allow booster clubs to dictate your coaches.”

Heltzel said that “not one” PIAA complaint had been lodged during the season in regard to coaching.

“We have a winning team,” said Heltzel. “Let the man do his job.”

The position will now be opened to qualified applicants. Several board members encouraged Zaruta to again apply.

When asked if he will, Zaruta replied, “Absolutely.”

In other business …

* Nicholas Sracic, of Johnson Controls, Inc., addressed the board regarding a proposed project related to Pennsylvania Act 39 or the “Guaranteed Energy Saving Act.”

The company would be retained by the district to enact energy efficient changes at its high school, middle school and Wycallis Elementary School sites.

The $2.5 million project would include conversion to natural gas and assessment of the feasibility of in-sourcing utility maintenance.

If approved in final, the project would be funded by the district’s float of a 20 year bond.

Act 39 mandates project costs cannot exceed its projected savings in the long term.

The board approved initial RFPs in regard to the project, which will commit the district only to the initial steps of the project.

* The board unanimously approved the execution of a contract with Dr. Thomas Duffy as superintendent of the Dallas School District for a five-year period beginning July 1, 2015 at a salary of $118,000 plus benefits.

* Kristen Gattuso and Bonny Mannello, of the Dallas Foundation for Excellence in Education, Inc., announced the funding of $27,000 of school “wishes,” including six iPads for Wycallis grades K-2 reading program, 36 notebook computers for its high school Algebra I program, and 15 notebook computers for its Dallas Middle School science program.

Superintendent Frank Galicki also invited the public to a “Twelve Twenty Four” holiday performance on Dec. 20, with all proceeds benefiting the Dallas High School Performing Arts.

The next regular meeting of the Dallas School Board will be heldat 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015.

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