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Split DV vote OKs new administrators’ pact

By David Hulse
April 30, 2014

SHOHOLA, PA — Following an hour and ten minute executive-session discussion on April 24, the Delaware Valley Board of Education returned to approve a new three-year contract for the district’s top 23 administrators.

The new agreement was approved by 6-3 vote of the board, with members Jessica Decker, Jack O’Leary and board president Pam Lutfy opposed.

In part the agreement includes:

• Annual 2.75% salary increases over the term.

• Changes in employee health insurance contributions, changing the format from an $850 annual employee contribution to contributions of 5% the first year, increased to 6% and 7% in the final two years.

• Conversion of 14 unused vacation days to salary annually. In past the conversion was limited to 10 days.

Members opposed generally had problems with the three-year term of the contract.

O’Leary said he didn’t want to gamble on the economy returning to pre-recession levels in three years. “I’d rather do two years.”

O’Leary, who is a construction worker, said he would not approve of similar terms in his own union.

Decker said only that she wanted to “go back and look at the contract language.”

Lutfy said her opposition was in part because there had not been enough board involvement in the terms of the agreement and “there are things I’d like to address.”

“My constituents want me to support my colleagues, and also use my own judgment. I support two years… I don’t like three years,” she said.

Jack Fisher, who chairs the board’s finance and budget committee, supported the agreement and anticipated an economic turnaround. “When the economy turns around, I don’t want to be looking at a major catch-up [contract].”

Saying he realized the difficulties the board faced in approving it, Dingman-Delaware Middle School Principal James Mitchell thanked the board for its support of the district’s administrators. “We know it’s not easy. Thanks for your cooperation.”

The board also approved a new three-year agreement for business administrator Bill Hessling, which also set compensation at 2.75% over the new term.

The board will present the district’s 2014-15 preliminary budget at their next regular meeting at the administrative offices on the Westfall campus at 7 p.m. on May 15.