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.