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East Penn Board Clashes Over Administrative Raises

East Penn School Board President Charles Ballard and School Director Alan Earnshaw do battle with School Directors Lynn Donches and Julian Stolz over motion to curtail pay raises for administrators and non-unionized employees.

Lines in the sand were quickly drawn at Monday night’s meeting of the when Director Lynn Donches made a motion to limit proposed pay raises for administrators and non-unionized employees to those making $45,000 or less.

That motion ultimately failed and the raises, which totaled $74,000 and gave salary bumps to 52 administrators and non-unionized employees, were approved. Those raises are merit-based, according to the dialogue during the meeting, and as a result range from 1.4 to 7.9 percent.

Superintendent of Schools Thomas L. Seidenberger is among the administrators who will receive a raise, with his salary jumping from from $163,415 to $166,193, effective Aug. 14. All other raises, which are coming from the general fund, are effective July 1..

In fighting for her motion, Donches called the salaries being paid to East Penn administrators “out of line,” adding that she wished she had had time to compare East Penn salaries to salaries being paid elsewhere.

“I believe that as a board, from the taxpayer point of view, we need to make sure that we are cutting costs and maintaining costs,” Donches said. “Reasonable salaries are being paid, and if we are so strapped [we should limit the raises.]

“I just feel strongly that these are competitive salaries, these are nice salaries. And, these are, according to the superintendent’s delivery, ‘dire times.’ I am willing for those making $45,000 and below to give them a little bump,” she said.

Board president Charles Ballard took issue with Donches’ motion from the get-go, calling it “disingenuous at best.”

“You are blatantly trying to establish political goals rather than business goals,” he said. “This is a business, we have to employ people. To say that they can ‘quit or leave because they do not like things,’ to say ‘we are not going to pay what you are worth,’ is extremely taxing on the principles of fairness.”

Board director Alan Earnshaw said that he would really like to see some sort of rationale for Donches’ argument. “At my place of employment,” he said, “there have been bonuses and raises throughout the recession. Why should these professional employees be exempted from [the pay increases being awarded in other fields]?”

Board director Julian Stolz expressed his support for Donches’ motion during the debate.

“I think it is perfectly reasonable to give [a raise] to people who are making less than the starting salary for a teacher in East Penn,” he said. “I don’t, like many of you, pledge to be a fiscal conservative and then vote to raise taxes year after year.”

In the end, Donches’ motion was defeated 5-2, with Earnshaw, Ballard, Francee Fuller, Samuel Rhodes and Ken Bacher voting against it. Director Michael Policano abstained and Director Rebecca Heid was absent.

jim rossi August 29, 2012 at 11:00 AM
Director Donches should be the next board president. Ballard is an overbearing pompous blowhard.
jim rossi August 29, 2012 at 11:02 AM
is it possible to have a referendum to rid our board of earnshaw, ballard, and fuller?
Lower Mac Resident August 29, 2012 at 12:13 PM
The problem emmaus124 is that they are not worth their $164,000, they are not running the school board single handedly, they have other school board members working as well, this guy and his bloated salary has to go, this is not the time for pay raises when you have families suffering with no jobs, overpriced groceries and gas costs out the rear, plus you have winter coming and the price of heating oil did NOT go down...it's plain as day inconsiderate!
Black Sheep August 29, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Someone needs to do something with those three. They are out of control.
Scott Alderfer August 29, 2012 at 12:58 PM
If the taxpayers of East Penn are not willing to pay for quality educators and administrators now, regardless of current unemployment rates and cost of living for the rest of us, this school district will not be in a position to provide quality education during better economic times. The quality of education in East Penn is reflected on our real estate values. We are fortunate to have a highly regarded school district, thanks in part to Dr. Seidenberger's leadership. Many folks complain that our school taxes are too high. Many would continue with that complaint if the school tax was cut in half. If Seidenberger truely was not worth his current salary, our property values in East Penn would certainly be lower. The cost of trying to save money on top administrators' salaries would be paid by our kids for the rest of their lives.
LMTnative August 29, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Great point Scott. The effect on property values is often overlooked. I for one would rather pay more to provide my children with a quality education and protect my property values.
Mary Jean Higgins August 29, 2012 at 03:58 PM
You are 100% right Scott.
Barrytee August 29, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Right on Jim, I like your thinking.
Barrytee August 29, 2012 at 11:17 PM
School's are like corporations, and just as greedy.
ted.dobracki August 30, 2012 at 12:31 AM
In EPSD, some would say that because of the cost of entry (real estate prices, cost of living, and the relative unavailability of affordable housing) we have de-facto private schools and all of the benefits that flow from that.
JR August 30, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Substitute teachers get no benefits and make around $12 per hour. Do we get a raise?
taxed-enough August 30, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Does anyone see the contrast here? This is the same school board that is fighting as hard as they can to cut off bus transportation around Willow Lane so that five year olds have to walk 1.5 miles to school. They say that transportation has to be ended for young students to save $60,000 per year, and they will eliminate that transportation as soon as they are able to. Then, the next meeting they vote to give raises to administrators for $74,000.00. So, it is in their best interest to cut off as much transportation as they can eliminate for students. It leaves room in the budget for bigger raises, obviously. Seidenberger is completely supportive of stopping the bus routes to "save" money. Then, next meeting approximately the same amount of money they want to save by cutting off transportation for students goes into raises, including for Seidenberger. If they really wanted to save money, why not cut out the raises? The County executive of Lehigh County only makes about $80,000 per year and he runs the whole county!
for real August 30, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Interesting theory. Then why did the entire district support pay freezes last year? Also, if this school was said to be built as a walker school, wouldn't paying for transportation for a couple of years be againist the interest of folks only trying to get pay raises?
Judy Johnson September 01, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Reality Check I reviewed the list of salaries and there is one that stood out to me, that I could relate to.Payroll and confidential administrator, $65,000.00 plus. I just retired from a major payroll provider, handled HR and payroll for multiple state corporations for a major national payroll provider. I made $20,000.00 less. I was a professional. I feel there is a disconnect between what people are earning and the salaries that their taxes are supporting. Judy Johnson
Patrice Sidoione All That Salon September 03, 2012 at 09:51 PM
This is a point to be made How is it that a substitute teacher with degrees is worth a FLAT $12.00/hour??? And this by the way is not people in the actual class room this is about people in the offices ...So they are not directly involved with the children or their education...But that said it is a point well taken!
Patrice Sidoione All That Salon September 03, 2012 at 09:54 PM
See this is what baffles me...People mention they (ad man) could make more money on Wall Street...Well, why are they not in NY on Wall Street? Could they really make the salary there that they do here??? I am astounded by this transportation cut!!! A child walking that far...Are you kidding me??? Obviously not the caring concerned AD Man people! I do not know nor have I investigated the mean salary rate in PA BUT when I get off here I will!!!
Patrice Sidoione All That Salon September 03, 2012 at 10:00 PM
The median Household income according to censes for Emmaus...2006-2010 $61,200 So these people are definately well paid!!! This is household & could include both hussband wife salary!!! Therefor if you do a half the per person rate could be $ around $30K/year All I know is $166K/year is good money any where!!! And to ask for raises & cut transportation is really in poor taste!!!
Patrice Sidoione All That Salon September 03, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Thank you Because I too felt that often government & what is the word for it non corporate salaries are often higher than the private sector! I know cleaning help in the county makes alot more money that their private secotr counterparts. So can I take this from you knowledge that the original salaries were already good & the increases is simply over paying for already good to great salaries?
Janet Persing September 04, 2012 at 01:20 AM
My "totally agree" comment was posted underneath Judy Johnson's, meaning I agree with her. But later comments were interspersed, giving the narrative a different meaning. My agreement was with Judy's post, not anyone else's.
Alburtis Parent September 05, 2012 at 03:36 PM
I work for a company where, due to the current economic climate, no one has received a raise in over 5 years, AND each year the employees are expected to pay more of their net paycheck towards their medical insurance plans. In essence, these employees are taking a pay cut year after year. When I discuss this topic with friends and acquaintances, they too are working under similar or same conditions these days. Since this seems to be the "norm" in this economic climate and within our Valley, I have to wonder: Why do the majority of the members of this school board feel "entitled" to raises when essentially, no one else has received more in their family paychecks?? Director Ballard pointed out that our school district has one of the lowest administrative costs in the state. I say that that "fact" is something to applaud and be proud of! Not, let's raise the salaries just so we can keep up with all the other overpaid Jones' school districts. In other words......Let's be a Role Model for other Districts, ladies and gentlemen!
Janet Persing September 05, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Just research what Gerald Zahorchak did to the Allentown School District.

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