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.

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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