The Malverne Board of Education granted a 2 percent salary increase and a two-year contract extension to the district's superintendent, Dr. James Hunderfund, earlier this month.
The action was taken during when four out of five trustees approved a resolution that also granted raises to other administrators and support staff.
Hunderfund, who earns $235,235 annually, according to the 2012-2013 NYSED Administrative Compensation Information, will get the 2-percent annual raise as a lump sum payment, which will be taken as an addition to his 403b retirement annuity. His contract was extended to June 30, 2015. (Before coming to Malverne, Hunderfund retired from the Commack School District with a maximum annual pension of $316,497, . Therefore, Hunderfund does not receive a pension from Malverne, nor does the district contribute to his health benefits, saving them roughly $50,000 annually, according to a school official.)
The resolution also granted 3 percent raises to the district's two other top officials - Assistant Superintendent for District Operations Spiro Colaitis and Deputy Superintendent Richard Banyon, who earn $149,684 and $194,760, respectively. Four Central Office staffers received 2 percent raises and a 4 percent annual increase was granted to Business Administrator Thomas McDaid, who told Patch that the administration had taken a salary freeze for the 2011-2012 school year.
With the board's approval, the resolution authorized the newly elected Board of Education President Peg O'Connor to execute amendments to the employment agreements for these individuals, effective July 1, 2012.
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When asked why the board granted the salary increase and contract extension for Hunderfund, and whether the superintendent had been formally evaluated, O'Connor issued the following statement:
Dr. Hunderfund works closely with the Board every single day and receives evaluative feedback on a consistent basis. The Board of Education has held discussions regarding Dr. Hunderfund's leadership performance and is very pleased with his role as our Superintendent of Schools, which is why the contract was extended. Malverne continues to gain from having one of Long Island's most experienced Superintendents, whose salary is less than the Nassau County average for Superintendents, and who receives no health insurance benefits or matching pension contributions, saving the district significant expense.
O'Connor was among the four school board members who voted in favor of passing the resolution, along with Danielle Hopkins, and newcomers and . Trustee Gina Genti voted against it.
Genti was absent from the executive session held prior to the business meeting and therefore, missed the closed-door discussion of the resolution. When she asked, during the public meeting, about it, an attorney for the board said that her question should be reserved for executive session.
The lawyer also explained that the resolution was a late addition to the July 10 meeting agenda. It was not included in the , which had been revised on July 9, that was shared with Patch. The resolution was added after the board voted in executive session to amend the agenda to bring the issue forward.
O'Connor refused to disclose any information to Genti or residents present at the meeting other than explaining that the resolution pertained to salary changes for non-union employees.
Citing board policy, Hopkins and Bottitta said they could not comment on the resolution when contacted by Patch this week. Taylor, also declined to answer questions. Instead, he stated via email that the "Malverne School district is headed for a change in a positive direction" but said Patch, and other community members and board members "do not represent the change."
He criticized Patch for reporting "negative" stories such as that the roof at Malverne High School was covered under warranty before asking voters to approve a capital project, and "spinning the truth for egotistical associates in the communities of Malverne and Lakeview."
Taylor added, "Malverne School district is a very good school district with a great upside and I recommend that you seek the beauty in the school district when writing your articles."
The raises will come out of the district's . (The board includes money in the budget for potential expenses such as raises and charter school tuition, but if you were to look at the line-by-line budget, you won't find specific lines for these anticipated costs, McDaid explained. It's hard to predict these costs and in the case of raises, it would be a disadvantage when negotiating contracts.)
The 2012-2013 budget that residents approved in May eliminated two administrative positions (resulting in the consolidation of the Math, Science, English and Social Studies department chairs), two custodians, two security positions and six Full Time Equivalent (FTE) teaching positions. The faculty cuts included a full-time psychologist and reductions in part-time positions in the areas of ELA, Social Studies, Health and Phys. Ed., Art, Music, Science and Library, resulting in increased class sizes. The jobs of two full-time faculty were saved, bringing the total number of FTE reductions down to four, when two teachers opted to retire.
The adopted budget also eliminated summer school (with the exception of Regents prep), summer recreation, and non-instructional field trips, and reduced art, music and library in the elementary schools, music lessons, K-12 co-curricular activities and clubs, athletic programs for Grades 7-12, BOCES services and non-mandated elective courses in the high school.
Additional reporting by Jordan Lauterbach.