Outraged by the Malverne to its superintendent, residents of District 12 have started an online petition.
The petition, created last week using the Web site Change.org, urges the Malverne Board of Education to rescind the raises granted to the district's administration, including Superintendent Dr. James Hunderfund, as well as the two-year contract extension the schools chief received.
"The increases should be rescinded until there has been proper evaluation and discussion. We feel these raises were awarded without merit and without transparency to the school district community," states the petition.
The board passed a resolution at its July business meeting to grant the annual raises -- a 2-percent lump sum payment to Dr. Hunderfund, who earns an annual salary of $235,235, and 3 percent to Assistant Superintendent for District Operations Spiro Colaitis and Deputy Superintendent Richard Banyon, who earn $149,684 and $194,760, respectively. The resolution also awarded annual raises of 2 percent to four Central Office staffers and 4 percent to Business Administrator Thomas McDaid.
However, since the resolution was a very late addition to the agenda and was not clearly explained during the meeting, residents are criticizing the board for lacking "transparency and integrity." Plus, according to BOE Trustee Gina Genti, the only board member of the five to vote against the resolution, Dr. Hunderfund has not been formally evaluated by the board in years.
"In these difficult economic times, it is fiscally irresponsible and morally bankrupt to award raises to individuals who a) have not been formally evaluated and b) done without prior notice to the community," states the petition.
Adding to residents' outrage is the fact that they approved in May made substantial cuts to staff, programs and services, and tapped into the district’s reserves, measures they were told by school officials were necessary in order to stay under the tax cap.
The petition states, "The vote was approved with the understanding that the school district was in the midst of a difficult time, financially. To award several members significant raises without any input by the community members while our students feel the sting of services and personnel being cut are unconscionable acts. These raises were never discussed at the time of the proposed budget and in the budget cycle.”
The petition also criticizes the board for not considering "other alternatives prior to extending the school district superintendent’s contract," which now runs through June 2015.
Defending the decision to grant the raises and contract extension, Malverne BOE President Peg O’Connor wrote, "The Board of Education held discussions regarding Dr. Hunderfund's leadership performance and is very pleased with his role as our Superintendent of Schools ... 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." (Hunderfund is retired from the Commack School District, which pays for his $316,497 pension.)
As of 3 p.m. Monday, 93 residents had signed the petition, which will be presented to the board at its September business meeting. To read the entire petition, click here.