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Upper Perkiomen School District Shakes up Administration
Written by Kelly Chandler Staff Writer

        Upper Perkiomen has decided to overhaul its administration.  Officials voted to ax an assistant superintendent position but add a director of human resources last week as the search for a new superintendent continues.

        At an Upper Perkiomen school board meeting Thursday, officials moved unanimously to hire a familiar face, former Hereford Elementary principal Ted Mucellin, as the acting director of human resources for the district.

        Mucellin will take the position temporarily, at a salary of $345 per day, until the district can find a permanent candidate.  The board is shooting for an early 2015 hire, said Acting Superintendent Timothy Kirby, who suggested the district should take the "opportunity" to change its central administration.  

        "I think he'll be a welcome addition.  We needed someone who is familiar with the system and has the type of interpersonal skills Ted brings," Kirby said of Mucellin.  He added since the person serving in that position will work closely with the superintendent, the district would like to allow the new superintendent, yet to be hired, to have a say in that hiring.    

        He said Mucellin will take on both duties of the former assistant superintendent, Fran Leskowicz, as well as some duties of Business Administrator Sandy Kassel, whom officials agreed "has too much on her plate."

        Leskowicz retired this month after more than 17 years with the district.

        Kirby said human resources became the assistant superintendent's primary area of responsibility after the district's personnel director left a few years ago.  He said Leskowicz was responsible for things like recruitment, employee evaluations, administering contract provisions, homeschooled students, student enrollment and staffing needs, grant work and generating reports required by state, federal and outside agencies, among other duties.

        According to Kirby, the changes in staffing should help the district realize a significant savings.  He said officials are looking to hire someone in the $90,000-$110,000 salary range, an estimated savings of $40,000-$60,000 over Leskowicz's salary.

        Kirby and Board President Bill Scott thanked Leskowicz for his time at Upper Perk, Kirby noting his "loyal and dedicated service."

        Scott called Leskowicz a "true soldier" who took on additional roles three times, most recently when former Superintendent Elizabeth Yonson left.

        The district is currently accepting applications for its new superintendent, Kirby said.  He said he has been networking, hoping to find a suitable candidate and the district is hopeful they will find the right person for the job.

        Once school starts next week, Kirby said there will be a link on the district's website for a timeline on the superintendent search, as well as an online survey for the public on the issue.

        Kirby, himself, said during the meeting he was "happy, proud and honored to be back with Upper Perk," noting there was a lot of excitement and anticipation for the beginning of the school year.  The first student day is Aug. 27. 

        In related news, the board approved a revised administrator compensation plan.  Directors Raeann Hofkin and Margie Gehlhaus voted against the measure.  Director Mike Elliott was absent.

        Under the plan, the district will contribute 1 percent of covered administrators' salaries into a 403(b) account for each year of the contract (2014-17) and $13,500 per year, for six years, into a 403(b) plan upon retirement.  The retiree can then use that cash benefit to apply towards health insurance coverage. 

        The benefit is only available to administrators who served for 10 years of continuous service to Upper Perk.

Administrators will also see a 2.95 percent salary increase each year for the next three years under the contract.

Gehlhaus said she remained opposed to the plan.  

        "This is a rich benefit for our district in the future and one which has far-reaching consequences," she said of the retirement contributions.  "Here are two separate non-elective employer contributions plus they are getting a salary increase… [This is] money from the taxpayers which will not be put toward education of the students."

        Hofkin agreed.

        "I don't like 'six years.'  No other district in Montgomery County does that.  I think we should take it out now," she noted.

        In other district news, the board stated they are moving forward with initiatives and are putting more technology in the hands of students.  They will be conducting trials this fall by giving high school language arts students Google Chromebooks and students in Wendy Perlstein's science classes iPads to utilize in the classroom.





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