Does York Suburban Really Want Good Ideas?

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 knp16@comcast.net.  Look for our webpage in the near future.

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5 Responses to Does York Suburban Really Want Good Ideas?

  1. Dave Hogg says:

    I find the biggest issue is the amount of the raise that they gave through this secret process. I calculate that they gave both Asst Supt’s about a 10% raise at a time when local businesses are struggling to provide even an inflation increase to employees. How can you possibly hand out 10% raises to your highest-paid employees when you are making a public show about cutting costs!? Something is very wrong here…

  2. Charles Hastings says:

    The short answer as to why I didn’t attend the November 13 “Community Conversation on Funding Public Education” is that I was afraid I’d lose my temper and get thrown out. I’m completely disgusted and disheartened by the goings on of the school board and the school administration. Let’s start with the school superintendent. As far as I’m concerned she’s not worth half the salary she’s paid.
    Going back to the January 2010 issue of Suburban Pride she wrote a letter stating her vision for the York Suburban School District. When I picked it up I thought “WOW”, at last I’m going to find plans and directions for our schools. Alas, that was not to be. If she has a vision I still don’t know what that is, even after reading it several times. What I read was a bunch of drivel.
    The letter is loaded with banality, generalities, platitudes. and is devoid of any concrete information. It might(?) be worthy of a high school senior paper.
    As a Spring Garden taxpayer, I want to know where my ever-increasing school taxes go. Shouldn’t the vision include controlling expenditures and holding (or heaven forbid reducing) taxes in check?
    In paragraph 3, she states that her vision should center on a mental picture of a preferred future or desired state for the district. Specifically, what is that vision? Give us an example. Instead we get an academic lecture on the difference between visions and strategies. In the last sentence sentence of that paragraph we’re told that a shared vision should set forth an overall direction. What is that direction? I have no clue.
    In the next paragraph there are more platitudes including a reference to (Schwan & Spady, 2002). Who are they?, a couple of comedy writers for Jay Leno?
    Next, we’re told that there will be risks. What risks? Increasing expenditures without increasing taxes?
    Then, Dr. Daggett tells us the educational system it must address the needs of the 21st century learner. Pray tell, how? Then we’re told that the educational system must prepare our learners with skills to deal with the 22nd century environment. Specifically, what skills?
    Then we are encouraged to send our SPECIFIC ideas about how to meet the needs of the 21st century learner. Excuse me, but isn’t that her job?
    I could go on with further criticism but the point is made.
    As for the school board I would advise them not to renew any contract without citizen taxpayer input. Also cut the salary for the superintendent to $75,000 and 30% reductions throughout the system. There will be plenty of qualified applicants at those levels; and be willing to take a strike

  3. Eric Levin says:

    Looking for the school boards offical response to the closed door decisions.

    • Eric Levin says:

      After a brief chat with Dr. Orban, today (and she was willing to talk to me as long as I wanted, and called me back rather quickly), and she reiterated that personnel matters are not made public. For now that is what I have to life with. I related to her that all I care about is an excellent education for the money. In my mind, when times are good, these “ills” would not be an issue (money oils the machine…chug chug). Now that we all are suffering, we want to see that ‘all’ equally & reasonably suffer (although my use of the word ‘suffer’ is not intended to lop all of societies ills on someone else, just the reality that the macro is in trouble…but you get the picture). So, we all need to keep “engaged” over the long hall and keep a level head and mouth. No one wins in a heated argument. YSSD is a great place to live and we ALL need to be on the ball not let our bene’s (which don’t come free) get outlandish. I love it here! EL.

  4. Marina says:

    You have really interesting blog, keep up posting such informative posts!

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