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School Board Approves Compensation Plans Despite Maneuvers
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Following multiple legislative maneuvers, the Upper Perkiomen School Board voted last week to approve new compensation plans for the instructional support, nurses and food service staff. A motion to approve all three plans simultaneously passed by one vote.

            Members Melanie Cunningham, President Kerry Drake, Raeann Hofkin and Judy McGinnis voted against the motion during the Aug. 15 public meeting after the board emerged from an executive session. Vice President Mike Elliot, Dr. John Farris, Steven Cunningham, James Glackin and Joan Smith voted for the motion, which established a three-year payment agreement for all three employment groups.

            "These are difficult decisions that none of us took lightly," Elliot said Monday afternoon. "Sometimes even after lengthy discussions, there can be hesitation, which we saw (during the meeting.) But I'm sure everybody's heart is in the right place.  That's the most important part."

            Beginning this fall, the starting rate for instructional paraprofessionals will be $11.75 with a second step listed as $13.75 with a pay rate maximum of $21.75. Non-instructional paraprofessionals will start at $10.50 with a second step of $12.50 and a maximum rate of $20.50.

            The agreement allows for a 50 cent increase given each year with a satisfactory evaluation capped at the maximum, according to information posted with the meeting agenda on the district's website. The paraprofessionals, for whom a majority of assignments consists of personal care duties, may be entitled to an annual stipend of up to $2,000.

            The new compensation scale for Registered Nurses calls for a starting rate of $20.40 with a second step of $22.40. For Licensed Practical Nurses, those figures are $16.32 and $18.32.  The agreement allows for a 50 cent increase given each year with a satisfactory evaluation capped at the maximum of $30.40 and $27.32, respectively.

            For the food service staff, managers received a starting rate of $11.30 with a second step figure of $13.30. For an assistant manager, the numbers are $10 and $12. Staff members would start at $9.50 with a second step set at $11.50. A 2.5 percent increase is given each year, with a satisfactory evaluation capped at the maximum of $19.30, $18 and $17.50, respectively.

            Email messages sent Monday afternoon to Superintendent Alexis McGloin, Business Administrator Sandra M. Kassel and Ashley Kitten, the district's director of human resources, seeking additional information on the agreement were not returned before the publication deadline.

            The previous agreement for all three groups ended over the summer. The board's negotiating committee, consisting of Elliot, Hofkin and Farris, met at least twice with representatives of each of the three groups over the last two months. The committee held multiple internal discussions about the issues and consulted with the other board members.

            Following a brief recess to discuss the issue in executive session, a motion to table failed. Farris, Steven Cunningham, Elliot and Glackin voted against it. Smith's abstention made the difference. Smith did not give a reason for her abstention. Then a motion to take each of three agreements separately failed. Only McGinnis, Hofkin and Melanie Cunningham voted affirmatively. The decisive vote approving all three agreements followed.

            Hofkin declined to comment on the situation, describing it as "executive session material" in an Aug. 16 email message. Melanie Cunningham would not disclose what was discussed in the private meeting. "What I can say is that we value all district staff, and we are working hard to be fiscally responsible yet retain our staff," she wrote. "It's a fine line."

            During the meeting, Elliot said he did not want the public to have the perception that the elected officials had not deliberated on this issue. "That would be an unfair assessment," he said.





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