At the June 26th meeting of the Board Of Education, the BOE unanimously awarded Sue Guercio a 2.7% increase for her business administrator’s contract for the 2018-19 school year.
At issue is the history of the annual salary increases for the Roselle Park School District (RPSD) business administrator contract. Starting with the 2011-12 school year, the annual salary increase was 2% for three school years with the 2015-16 school year having a 1.8% increase – a decrease in the percentage. For the 2016-17 school year contract, there was a 0% increase. Multiple sources have stated that this was a form of disciplinary action against Mrs. Guercio as a result of the Robert Gordon tuition scandal where the relative of the school principal who lived out-of-district went to Robert Gordon without paying tuition, as agreed to in a contract, until an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request discovered that no payments had been made (link).
Then, for the 2017-18 school year, the annual salary increase jumped to 2.5%. This coming school year, the increase will be 2.7% for a salary of $163,138.95. If next year, the school board approves an increase of 2.8%, the current business administrator’s salary will be $167,707.26. This will be just $43.76 less than if she continuously received a 2% increase from the 2016-17 school year.
The actions of the school board appear to be erasing the 0% increase and looking to make the business administrator whole for that disciplinary action.
Three board members spoke on the matter during the meeting. First was Troy Gerten, who is on the personnel committee. He remarked, “Without getting into specifics because we are talking about personnel, I will say this . . . all personnel decisions are thoughtful. They’re part of the master plan and they’re all worked and talked about at the committee level.”
Mr. Gerten also stated that the increase was upon the recommendation of School Superintendent Pedro Garrido and passed on to the committee who discussed it.
“We’ve been able to enact some personnel practices that I personally am proud of,” Mr. Gerten continued, “I do want to recognize that that’s in line with [other business administrators and] to what we’ve compared outside of our area . . . to make sure we are in the competitive market but also that we are rewarding performance as well. All personnel decisions are thoughtful so I don’t want you to misconstrue that, that it wasn’t a thoughtful decision where we’re at . . . Personnel is one of those things that’s kind of behind closed doors, very rarely discussed in public but do know that your committee is working in the best interest of our district and our town and does find a happy medium.”
He concluded by stating that he supported the 2.7% increase for the contract, explaining that he thought the business administrator fulfills many goals that other districts have additional personnel for and that someday the district is going to have to deal with the fact that it may have to have additional positions to perform the duties being done by the current business administrator. Mr. Gerten did not provide information on what the school board is currently doing to accommodate any such increases in the salary portion of the budget or how it plans to implement those job responsibilities.
Later in the meeting, BOE member Sundjata Sekou added that he did research and that there are other school districts that have assistant business administrators which is an increased salary. He stated the school district he researched was Hillsborough. In conducting its due diligence, Roselle Park News found that Hillsborough does not have an assistant business administrator but Hillside in Union County does. Even then, Mr. Sekou stated that the business administrator received a 2% increase, not a 2.7% salary adjustment.
A further review of surrounding school districts shows a wide range of salaries for the business administrator (BA). Taking into context, Kenilworth which has a student population of 1,433 pays their BA $174,388 but Clark – with a student population of 2,278 – pays their BA $140,867. Rahway School District’s business administrator has a salary of $159,200; there is no Assistance BA listed. Additionally, other districts – as well as Roselle Park – have paid administrators and additional salary for work done in an additional capacity. RPSD did this with its previous superintendent and New Providence provides a stipend to the BA to perform the duties of Technology Coordinator. The RPSD Business Administrator contract has no such additional responsibilities listed.
Below is a listing of school districts that responded to an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for salaries of their business administrators.
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Comparing the student populations of neighboring school district in the county, Roselle Park ranks 16th out of 20.
The difference between giving a 2% increase this coming school year as opposed to a 2.7% increase is just $1,111.95 – about $21.40 a week. In a year where millions of dollars in salaries are being negotiated between the school board and the teachers union, such an amount might easily be approved. But the amount itself is not significant, it is the percentage increase that is on the way to bringing the business administrator’s salary to a level as if there was no disciplinary action should put such actions by the school board into context.
A copy of the 2018-19 Roselle Park School District Business Administrator Contract is available below:
Download the 2018-19 RPSD Business Administrator Contract