If Philipsburg-Osceola Area School District’s director of finance is to see a raise for the 2014-15 school year, it won’t happen until at least September.
An increase of $1,400 for Michael Conte and for P-O’s high school social worker was on the agenda for Tuesday night’s board meeting, but the question took board members by surprise.
“I guess my question is, why didn’t we do this at a committee meeting?” asked board member Elizabeth Whitehead. “We need to discuss it in a committee or executive session.”
Superintendent Gregg Paladina said he knew the item was going to provoke conversation but the lack of committee discussion was only an oversight on his part. The item should have been placed on an earlier committee agenda.
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The $1,400 annual raise is equal to that of the district’s certified professional employees covered by Act 93, employees who are not part of a collective bargaining unit like the teachers’ union. Those employees include administrators at the district’s four schools.
“Does the contract say that we have to give a raise?” asked board member Nancy Lamb.
Conte’s contract does include language that says he “is to get” an annual increase but doesn’t specify an amount. Earlier this year, the board approved retroactive payment of Conte’s 2013-14 raise.
For board member Jim Verbeck, the issue isn’t just about the discussion, but about whether the raises are appropriate.
“I’m not anxious to open up a can of worms with raises,” said Verbeck, despite the raises being equal to those already awarded to the other employees.
“Honestly, I think they are entitled to more,” said Paladina.
Conte’s raise is about 1.4 percent of his annual salary. He is working on a five-year contract approved before Paladina came on board in 2013. The social worker’s increase is about 2.4 percent, less than the 2.6 percent teachers are receiving under their contract.
Board members voted to table discussion of the increases, but made it clear it was not a judgment on the quality of the employees’ work.
Verbeck, however, wants to have another meeting to discuss Paladina’s performance. The superintendent, entering his second year at the district’s helm, has already had his original contract extended and had a positive performance review earlier in the year, but Verbeck insisted he wants the board to have a discussion about how the district is being run.
Other board members were confused. Todd Jeffries insisted that was already accomplished with the evaluations. President Rebecca Timchak told Verbeck she will handle a meeting.