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Superintendent Explains Controversial Pay Raise, Proposes Additional Cuts

Another $166,000 in cuts was proposed at last night's school board meeting.

Nazareth schools superintendent Victor Lesky wanted to make at least one thing clear at last night’s school board meeting: All employees -- about 500 individuals -- were asked to take a zero percent increase for the coming school year.

Lesky had stated  that about 22 administrators offered to lower their pay raises to 1.7 percent from 3.75 percent.  It was noted last night that there are 27 administrators in the district. 

After a resident, who refused to re-state his name for Patch, pointed out an opinion piece from the Express-Times website, Lesky corrected his statement from the previous meeting.

“Maybe I wasn’t clear enough in what I said at the last meeting,” Lesky said. “The administrators were the only ones who offered to come in at zero. Yes, they’re willing to accept [a] 1.7 percent [raise], but they’re also willing to accept zero percent, but only if others are willing to go along with them.”

The Nazareth Area Education Association and the Nazareth Area Educational Support Personnel Association has either offered Lesky no response, or responses the board did not deem credible, Lesky said at the April 11 meeting.

“I receive a salary that I do think is significant enough for what I do,” Lesky continued. “I got a zero percent increase last year and I’m intending to take a zero percent increase next year. And I’m OK with that.”

Lesky added that although the district must make hard cuts, it must be done in a “fiscally responsible” manner.

“If we don’t keep the education up, then there will be nobody moving here and there will be nobody here to purchase the services of the individuals,” he said.  “… Three districts are recommended when businesses move into the valley … you’ve got to be very careful, because you can cut, cut, cut, but the revenue will dry up and so will the people moving here and the people supporting our businesses.”

In other business, Lesky and Bernadine Rishcoff, the board secretary, outlined more cuts at last night’s meeting.

Those cuts include:

  • School Security Measures -- Four high school monitor positions will be cut and one middle school monitor’s hours will be cut to three hours, saving the district $100,000.
  • Reducing two additional custodial staff members by attrition, which would save the district $120,000.
  • Eliminating the Central Duplicating Center, which would save the district $54,000.  All teachers would have to do their own duplicating, or copying. 

On April 1, the district also received a revenue increase of $281,456 due to a combination of a real estate increase and a decrease in appeal loss, and from a collection increase and Edujobs dollars from 2010-2011.

The final budget will be presented at the May 16 meeting and will be voted on at the May 23 meeting.

Carl Strye April 19, 2011 at 02:46 PM
22 administrators????????? What do they all do? When I went to school at Nazareth we had Three. What has changed? Maybe a few more students, but 22 administrators? That is crazy. I would like to see a list of all them and exactly what they administrate, how much they get paid and how they effect the teaching of our students. This should be public knowledge since tax payers money is paying them.
Mallory Vough (Editor) April 19, 2011 at 04:20 PM
Not to add fuel to the fire, Carl, but there's actually 27 administrators. It was previously reported that there were 22. I like your questions ... I may look into it and see what I get.
Carl Strye April 19, 2011 at 06:09 PM
That would be very interesting news to us all. I just don't understand why a district this size would need 27 administrators. And the district is asking the teachers to take a pay freeze? I think with 27 administrators making very close too or over $100,000.00 per year, it takes a lot of "youk now what" to ask the teachers, who are on the front line of education, to take a pay freeze. Maybe when the 27 administrators come down off the cash cloud and take a three to four year 0% raise, it might make sense for the teachers to do that for one year.
Chris Miller April 19, 2011 at 08:13 PM
Carl I want to take a bit of issue with you on the comment on the teachers being out front. I don't think that is happening. If you were at last night's meeting you will recall the presentation by the DATA team from the Middle School. I don't know about you but I came to the conclusion that a lot of time is spent by our kids getting reading for tests like the PSSA. I came away from the meeting thinking that our kids are over tested and if that is indeed the case they are not being taught by the teachers. I confirmed that with a friend who has 3 family members who teach. They told him that they do very little teaching due to all the prep for the tests. Now this is caused by the Commonwealth that wants to see results for all the money spent. On top of that the teachers are doing a lot of kids in a committee stuff that has the teacher acting more like an overseer then a teacher. We will need to remedy this issue. Come to our meetings on the 3rd Friday of every month at 7PM at the Center for the Arts in Nazareth.
Carl Strye April 21, 2011 at 02:22 AM
You may be right. But, my point is the teachers are in front of the kids every day. If their hands are tied, then that is another issue.
Anabela April 23, 2011 at 04:38 AM
As a student at NCC in the ECE field and a childcare center owner, we have learned and concluded that our children are taught what is needed for the PSSA's and that's it! Kids are not given the same opportunities as we did when we went to school. It is sad, because teachers therefore are limited and can't teach children what they really should be learning and most of all, children are forced worksheets after worksheets. I hate that children have to take the PSSA's in March and yet, they haven't even learned some of the things that they are being tested for. What a waste of our money! Teachers work hard. Yes, there may be some that don't. Yes, I believe that is where our schoold district and unions fail. As a parent of three, it saddens me alot to hear about all these cuts, in which I believe are so needed in our school districts. What does this mean, our schools are going to be dirty? Our children are not going to be safe? People are loosing focus here ... it's about the children and not about yourself. There are 27 administrators for 6 schools...that's an average of 4.5 administrators for each school. Considering the size of the Intermediate, Middle and High School...well folks it's not bad!!! Again, we have to focus on what we need for our children and their future....NOT our opinions. This is sad, and I am scared to see what the future holds for my boys in the Nazareth School District!!!
Anabela April 23, 2011 at 04:40 AM
Everyone should watch this ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dAujuqCo7s
Chris Miller April 23, 2011 at 12:08 PM
Carl Here is the question, are their hands tied or are they willling participants? Anabela I agree with your observations. However, it should be obvious to all of us by now that the schools are over staffed. It seems to me that superintendents and the union are all about more buildings that then must be staffed with more teachers and administration. In Nazareth they now have "specialists" on what I will designate as "collecting data teams". We have a pile of non-essential people in our schools from teachers, administrators, and monitors/police forces that could really be handled in house. But we do things like "block scheduling" that in turn keeps teachers in the class room. When I taught we had assigned duty periods where we patrolled the halls and made sure the kids were doing what they were suppose to be doing, going to the library, going to the bathroom, etc. Now we have armed guards. Parents and teachers must begin protesting what is going on in the classroom. It certainly is not teaching as we have now concluded, it is preping for the damnable tests that have dumbed down our kids.
Wayne Schissler April 23, 2011 at 04:10 PM
I watched the video Anabela. "Rational thinking was not on the test" - I always thought that was true in the past also! You should have been at the meeting and watched the "non-controversial" part, the Middle School Data Presentation. It was all about teaching to the test! A small army of specialists literally (and I really mean literally) went through the whole alphabet to illustrate all the data mining that goes into making sure we score well on the Keystone & PSSA tests. It just made one wonder how anybody ever learned anything before we had experts reinvent education - something that seems to happen every few years. And how much does this cost, not just fiscally but in time that the children should be having a well rounded education, not a "to the test" one. Truth is that your children, and the children of most everybody who comes out to the board meeting (regardless of what "side" they are on) have a huge head start already, parents that care. They have parents that have read to them since infancy. That taught them their colors, shapes, and alphabet before they got to kindergarten. Taught them how to tie their shoes and wipe their nose. You and most other parents in NASD have given their children the good example of being engaged parents, not just waiting to hand them over to the "experts" at age 5. And that example carries on throughout their formative years.
Wayne Schissler April 23, 2011 at 04:35 PM
Continued from my other comment: A large part of our "movement" is about breaking away from the underfunded mandates that come from Harrisburg and DC and create this wasted "to the test" mentality. We demand an end to regulations that prevent local commonsense solutions to our problems. As for safety in the schools, again we tend to tie ourselves up in knots. Today's teachers best bet when encountering fighting students is to be the first to take a fall and avoid the inevitable law suit. Weapon free zones insure that everyone is equally defenseless should the unthinkable happen. I was at the board meeting in the 90's when the policy was created. I remember Mr Shapelle pulling out a finger nail clipper and saying that it would technically violate the policy. The hall/cafeteria monitors positions that were eliminated --- I know parents that used to volunteer to do that, and now it's a paid position with benefits? There's a lot more to this than meets the eye at first glance. Do you know that Northern Lehigh School District is facing no tax increases and no cuts? They listened to the fact that the Federal stimulus money that keep the school budgets inflated would be temporary. They prepared, they are not two years behind the fiscal reality of the rest of the world. For more info: http://ccnasd.org/where-did-the-money-go/
Chris Miller April 26, 2011 at 12:25 PM
The word is that the teachers have told Board members that since the Board has the money they, the teachers, want it. There will be no freeze from Nazareth teachers. All of us might want to recall that the current contract came about because a year before negotiations began the teachers were threatening the tazpayers with a strike. Nice group of folks.
Carl Strye April 26, 2011 at 03:42 PM
I have to agree with the teachers on this one. They have a contract, and if the District has the money, what exactly is the question? There are two signitures on the contract, the teachers and districts. To me it all goes back to the 27 aministrators and the 100's of thousands of dollars that is in my mind "being waisted". It is time re evaluate this situation.
Chris Miller April 26, 2011 at 07:02 PM
Carl. I believe we could leave the money in the rainy day fund and have the money from the freeze to pay down bills. It is a tricky manuver but one that might be necessary
Carl Strye April 26, 2011 at 09:31 PM
It was drizzling when they started to hire a couple more administrators, then it started raining administrators, now we have a flood of administrators. Don't you think the rainy day fund is saturated? We need to plug the dam, not go the "easy" way out with the teachers.
Wayne Schissler April 27, 2011 at 03:50 AM
Carl, you're absolutely right about honoring contracts. I don't blame unions and the rank and file for trying to get the best deal they can. And when they do I say, "Good for them". Being envious of somebody else's pay is kinda lame in my book. So it's the negotiators, administrators, and board that didn't account for rising pension costs or bad financial times. But... If this was a corporation and the economy took a turn for the worse the people who run it would be faced with shutdowns, drastic layoffs, or cutting corners. A way to minimize that is to go to the workers and lay it out on the table - take cuts or this place may fold. That is what has happened all around us. I know union workers in the district that have not had raises in two years and are grateful just to be working. There's a lot of people that haven't had raises in a while. Just blaming the management for the problem doesn't save the jobs. People making due on last years wage levels does. With a school you can't shut down. Cutting corners can only go so far. You could lay off teachers and cut departments but at every turn somebody will protest. A wage freeze, just like the sort we see in the private sector would go a long way to saving departments and maintaining programs. But just like the private sector, the contract just can't be violated, it'll take people willing to sacrifice for the good of everyone.
Wayne Schissler April 27, 2011 at 03:52 AM
When the Driver Ed instructor gave his impassioned plea to save the course Director Crook in his response was sympathetic but he pointed out that nobody has come out, nobody stepped up to the plate, referring to the request for a wage freeze. Instead of helping, instead of doing what they can to keep disruptions in the school system at a minimum they are just lying low waiting for this to blow over. I'll gladly have them prove me wrong. One more thing. I found out at the last meeting that they are at the beginning of a 4 year contract and I hear that it was negotiated over a year ago. This seems very odd to me. While the economy was going to pot all around us, while everybody else is just getting by, this occurs? I don't fully understand the dynamic behind the negotiations, who's involved, who's not... but at that very same time the decrease in future education funding was obvious . http://ccnasd.org/where-did-the-money-go/
Chris Miller April 27, 2011 at 06:04 PM
Wayne I believe they actually negotiated the contract in 2009, 2 year ago.

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