Without a doubt, pointing out problems as a concerned citizen is easier than solving problems as a school member, yet the York Suburban School Board’s actions belie their words requesting community input for balancing the budget. The Monday following the Saturday November 13 “Community Conversation”, without any prior public discussion, the school board voted to extend the contracts for the 2 assistant superintendents for 5 years. I make no judgments regarding the assistant superintendents’ job performance; they likely have done their jobs competently. However, in light of the current fiscal difficulties, I am hard pressed to understand why their duties couldn’t have been spread out among the other 15 administrators.
Reviewing the school district’s 5 year contract with the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction (the slightly lesser of the 2 contracts) reveals a salary of $142,076 with a maximal annual increase of 4%. The benefit package includes life insurance, health-care insurance, dental insurance, disability insurance, annual physical exam, 12 days of sick leave (May accumulate unlimited sick days and any used days are reimbursed at the time of retirement.), 5 bereavement days for the death of an immediate family member, 3 days of personal leave a year, full reimbursement for completed graduate credits, full reimbursement for related society memberships and conference expenses, 11paid holidays a year, 20 vacation days a year (can accrue up to 30 in a year), 10 years of health-care benefits after retirement, a maximum of $1000 matching district dollars for 403b retirement, and last but not least “any and all benefits that exist in the teacher contract”, e.g. additional pension and health-care benefits.
The school board rightly complains state and Federal mandates limit control of some expenditure, and that the state’s distribution of education monies disadvantage growing districts like York Suburban. Yet the greatest portion of expenses relate to salaries and benefits and the board can significantly affect these costs if they willed to do so. The 5 years extension of the assistant superintendents’ contracts doesn’t demonstrate such will, nor does the 3 year teacher contract they negotiated last year in the midst of the economic downturn (no economic downturn for the teachers’ union with annual increases and ability to significantly increase base pay with taxpayer reimbursed educational credits) despite budget projections that were already looking worrisome.
Lastly, if the board really wanted public input, why was the discussion of the assistant superintendents’ contract extension (did I mentioned is for 5 years?) done privately and executive session? Personnel issues such as disciplinary action, potential legal actions, etc. are appropriate for private executive session, but to do the same was salary discussions that makeup over 70% of the budget, claiming these are private personnel issues, is disingenuous at best.
If you would like to get involved with improving local governance, please contact the York Suburban Citizens for Responsible Government at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for our webpage in the near future.