BOE Pay Raises Draws Skepticism

By at August 3, 2017 | 2:20 pm | Print

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Three members of the New Britain of the Board of Education administrative staff were given raises last week, as the assistant superintendent position presently being held by Paul Salina, is being reduced from $149,000 to $90,000 as it will be part-time.

The chief financial officer position, presently held by Kevin Kane, was given a $17,000 raise to put the position’s salary at $156,000. There will also be a $3,000 raise next year.

The chief talent officer, presently held by Dr. Shuana Tucker, was given a $14,000 raise to put the position’s salary at $154,000. There will also be a $3,000 raise in 2018-19.

A third position, an assistant chief talent officer, presently held by Dr. Nicole Sanders (who is also a board of education member) received a $13,000 increase to $153,000. In 2018-19 it will raise again approximately $3,000. Previously, Sanders was a principal and made around $142,000.

“We are currently going through a reorganization that is eliminating a $150k salary. The chief financial officer is taking over as head of three departments, that warranted the salary increase. In terms of the talent office it was partially due to an increase in duties and responsibilities and also to bring the salary into a more competitive range,” said Nicholas Mercier, board president. “Long story short, we are actually seeing a savings of around $20,000 this year in central office salaries and an additional savings of $90,000 next year.”

But some board of education members and council members took offense to board of education employees getting raises when the board of education asks for more funds each year.

“While I understand that added duties these individuals may have, the salaries are outrageous and insulting considering that the average resident of New Britain makes under $40,000 a year,” said Alderman Kristian Rosado. “At a time where we are always asking for additional classroom support, money should not be going to the highest paid administrators. What about our kids?”

According to Mercier, the entire board voted to approve the amended contracts. The only two members not in attendance were Mallory Deprey and Miriam Geraci, but neither voiced any concerns prior to leaving the meeting, said Mercier.

“There is no state budget right now, I don’t even know if we will be getting our share of the ECS grant, so any raises shouldn’t even be on the table until we know for sure what we are getting from the State,” School Board member Miriam Geraci told the City Journal on Tuesday. “Additionally, classroom support should be at the forefront of any additional dollars we spend, this was not the right time to be giving raises to people who already make some of the largest salaries in the City. I would have liked more time to digest these contracts and review them further.”

“The BOE knew the Superintendent wanted to tweak salaries due to a new higher and regional competitiveness, but the amount of the increase caught some of us off guard,” said Sharon Beloin-Saavedra long time board of education member. “Salary adjustments in conjunction with job responsibility changes do occur, but this was out of the ordinary for us (the BOE). I hesitantly supported it to show solidarity with Super and BOE President, but did express my concerns and displeasure with it. In other words I supported the team with objections stated.”

Mercier argues that these increases will make the positions easier to fill in the future.

“It also goes to making the positions competitive,” said Mercier. “We had a hard time filling both the Chief Talent and Assistant Talent position because we were very much under the average salaries for those positions when we looked at local comparisons.”

Alderman Daniel Salerno said there is nothing Council members can do in this situation.

“The board of education has every right to use the funds. We provide them funds, but we don’t control how they spend it. Their accountability is ultimately to the taxpayer,” said Salerno. “We don’t control how they spend their operating budget. I wish there was more interaction, but we don’t have the authority.”

Superintendent of Schools Nancy Sarra refused comment on the increases.

 

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