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Residents Petition Malverne School Board to Rescind Raises, Contract Extension

More than 90 residents of the Malverne School District have signed online petition.

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"The increases should be rescinded until there has been proper evaluation and discussion.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.

PHD_IN_ECONOMICS August 21, 2012 at 03:49 AM
LMAO@ Gina, most teachers need to go back to school and get out in the real world b/c most of the kids that come out into the real world are airheads and know nothing. So obviously these teachers don't do their jobs properly. The average 25 yr old has no money, wastes his/her entire paycheck, can't form a budget, can't create a decent resume, has no manners, and virtually is a moron that has zero clue about the world and different viewpoints. All this being said some of you teachers are just lazy do nothing's that should be fired.
Gina Cappellino August 21, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Until now this has been a relatively professional discussion regarding the problems within our district, until PHD resorted to name calling. I refuse to excuse myself, and am proud of the job I do teaching students who hear nonsense like PHD spews at the dinner table, then we get to deal with the disrespect that parents like you have taught them to show us. I, for one, have raised and educated two of the most poised, sophisticated and professional children anyone could wish for. I feel sorry for you, PHD. Get some therapy for your anger!
Tara Conry (Editor) August 21, 2012 at 02:41 PM
It looks as if the Malverne Board of Education may be discussing emails they received regarding the salary raises granted to administrators and central office staff at tonight's meeting. You can view the agenda here: http://patch.com/A-xgPF
Freedom of Speech August 22, 2012 at 12:06 AM
The profession of education was an honest job until Gina took hold of a classroom, what an awful day for America that was about 50 years ago. Gina teachers are not well respected anymore and they shouldn't be. They should be held accountable for the lousy the job they do. Tenure shouldn't be allowed, performance should be tied to compensation and its not. Today's young adults enter the workforce unarmed b/c they lack common sense, smarts, and hardwork. We can blame the many teachers and professors who never gave a damn about them.
Freedom of Speech August 22, 2012 at 12:09 AM
By the way Gina, that dude PHD wasn't acting as you say, you just don't agree and so you rudely start in with the nonsense. You need to grow up Gina, especially if you are around young kids all day, maybe they can teach you some manners this fall cause you're lacking.
Gina Cappellino August 22, 2012 at 02:02 AM
No need to dignify the last few comments with a response BECAUSE I do not engage in conversations with people who personally attack me and my profession. Enough said.
Gerald Barr August 22, 2012 at 02:50 AM
What started as a productive discussion about the bankrupt ethics of the current administration in “negotiating” increases in austere times, degenerated into an embarrassing thread of racist code words like, “Lakeview School District”, “free lunches”, “private vs public” school kids, and disrespectful insults. That is highly offensive considering Lakeview homeowners also pay taxes and are very dissatisfied with the quality of education imparted by the school district; lack of representation of our views and leadership on the board and administration; our community is experiencing transient renters as Malverne is currently, which hurts stability and quality of life. @ Veronica, when a public school student moves to private school and performs better, it is not the child, and vice versa. So, please don’t attribute academic performance to race, class, gender or affordability. All children can learn but not all children will learn.
Gerald Barr August 22, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Why Malverne can’t rise: • Apathetic community effort in the improvement of education for all children • Dysfunctional, uninspired board who are not beholden to the taxpayers or the students who ATTEND the district schools • Unconscionable and insipid administrative leadership with a penchant for misleading the public about TRUE district condition • Racially -divisive politics, as the remnants of the 60s and 70s die hard • Many students who are comfortable with mediocrity – home and societal pathology • Many teachers function at mediocre levels for various reasons from tied hands, to a lack of professional development, burnout, district bullying, to privilege bestowed through nepotism, favoritism and other isms… • Value system that places education below sports, entertainment and extra-curricular activities (home, community and society) • Most unions have some form of tenure that protects its membership from exploitation by administration. However firing bad teachers should be easier. Pay for performance will not, cannot work in the public arena. All legitimate studies attest to it. Students are not raw material that comes uniform without issues at various stages of development. Can’t stick them in “work in progress” for accounting reasons.
Freedom of Speech August 22, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Of course you don't respond b/c democrats are never wrong and blame others like you do. You are a downright disgrace just like Mr. Obama is!
Gerald Barr August 22, 2012 at 02:52 AM
• Approximately 60%, not 98%, of Malverne School District-eligible children, including my children, attend private school. Fact is, private school has many benefits that public school does not provide but private school still has serious shortcomings which many of us are too prideful to admit. Public school teachers are better educated and prepared but lack the environment, incentive (parents pay so they are more involved) and discipline of private schools. Our kids are still financially illiterate when they graduate, and can sometimes lack practical intelligence vs academic … • Instead of flight, residents need to do a better job vetting the candidates for the board and making board more accountable. As for the current leadership, expect more of the same until they are voted out or forced to resign.
Kathleen August 22, 2012 at 03:23 AM
"What started as a productive discussion about the bankrupt ethics of the current administration in “negotiating” increases in austere times, degenerated..." i couldn't agree with you more. Very disappointing where the tone of the comments went. How can a community come together an discuss relevant issues when name calling and harassment abound?
Gina Cappellino August 22, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Ok, Freedom, bring it on. When I responded to PHD that I disagreed with him about young people bring brought up to be lazy and not well educated by saying that my own two children were well educated and professional, you came out and attacked me saying that I was not a good teacher. I was trying to figure out how you could say such a thing without knowing me personally, but now I am sure that you don't know me because I am a registered republican. So that means you chose to attack me because I was the only one on this forum not hiding behind a pseudonym that spoke out in defense of myself and my colleagues. Read what mr. Barr said above: this began as an intellectual discussion but sunk to terribly low levels. I am truly of the belief that the students who are disrespecting us in the classrooms are being taught to do so at home. One thing you may be right about, with that mentality being the norm today, there may not be room anymore for quality teachers like me.
Gina Cappellino August 22, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Thank you, Kathleen.
Veronica August 22, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Mr. Barr, all children can learn, however, many do not want to learn. They are too busy being social, having babies, being angry, getting away with murder (so to speak), etc. when parents take a sincere interest in their child's education, life, character, etc. instead of tryi g to just be in control and talk just to hear themselves say something g, anything, only then does the child prosper. If, as you say, private school parents take a firm interest in ther child's education then how good would that be foe the public schools? It would be a welcome change; or is it, as you seem to imply, that they take a firm I Teresa only because they pay a lot for their children to attend private schools? Wouldnt that much energy be better directed at the public schools with their children attending them? Wouldn't that make propert values better? You and a few people may try to insult me a d a few other people on this blog, however, the truth be known, you can't insult the truth! I'm still laughing at the peculiar insults to everyone on this site. I'm guessing it makes those people feel so much better about themselves when they can call someone else an "idiot" or whatever other names they can come up with. It's easy to hide behind a name like PHD and Freedom of Speech. So go on and make fools of yourselves with your blatant ignorance. God bless you too!
Veronica August 22, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Also please excuse the spelling errors and or words that are supposed to be something else or missing a letter, auto correction stinks sometimes. I'm sure you will be able to make headway of what I'm trying to say. Thanks for your understanding, I'm sure I can count on everyone to be nice!
Veronica August 22, 2012 at 01:21 PM
P.S. where we're the big mouths on this blog who have the bright ideas, and insults at last night's BOE meeting?
Gerald Barr August 22, 2012 at 01:40 PM
All teachers must have a masters' before 5 years including regular professional development. That's more education than 85% of professions. Finance, Economics and Business courses will solve your latter issues with students - courses valued as a luxury today and replaced by AIS. Residents can demand more. Can't blame teachers for the content of music, videos, the Internet, movies, reality tv, poor parenting, poor leadership in schools...they all affect a child's education. You can blame teachers for delivery of instruction, communication with parents, effort in connecting with students, quality of lesson but not too much more. Debate the issues.
Gerald Barr August 22, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Veronica, why should private school parents move their kids to public school if the leadership, philosophy and policies stay the same and adds up to failure? Most of us are not willing to sacrifice our children's education in the short term to enhance property values in the long term especially after the overwhelming votes for the two new Hunderfund candidates. It is a worthy sacrifice because we see the impact of a public education on the district's kids.
Gina Cappellino August 22, 2012 at 02:16 PM
I was there, Veronica. Where were you sitting? Thank you for calling out the people who offended me. It would be nice if we all worked together. The teachers are not your enemy. By the way, I don't get paid for attending board meetings. Surprisingly, none of you brought up the administrators' raises.
Veronica August 22, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Well, Mr. Barr, you've got me there. I don't know what to say to that. The only thing I can say is that there would be the hope that the quality would be raised, however, it's true that it would be a very big gamble and I completely understand what you are saying. Those overwhelming votes for the 2 new board members are sickening. They are obviously in the pockets of the administrators, sadly.
Veronica August 22, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I was standing outside of the room, Gina. No one gets paid for attending BOE meetings. One can only hope that by attending something would be accomplished. I do not see that anything major happened last night, however why would that even be expected? Silly thought to say the least. Who was it that made the blunder about Brian Curran being the former Mayor of Lynbrook Public Schools? Which board member? Very funny!
Kathleen August 22, 2012 at 04:46 PM
I don't think anything will happen in one board meeting- which I am sure you don't think so either. However, it is important to keep showing up and letting the board and admin know the community is watching and being vocal. Signing and talking up the petition is another way. There needs to be slow, constant pressure put upon the board and admin. I wasn't able to be at the meeting last night, but I heard there was quite a round of "we're doing a great job" amongst the board members and admin. While there are some great things going on in the schools, there is more work to be done. The board and admin seem to also be missing the point- you don't just give top officials salary increases after they cut so many programs and staffing positions AND with no formal evaluations. That act was done without integrity. The board and admin seem to be totally out of touch with the feelings and perceptions the community has. They can't just keep glossing over the "noise" of the public with shouts of "atta boy" amongst each other. Together, we can make change happen- remember the wheels of justice move slow.
C.J. August 22, 2012 at 08:41 PM
I heard something interesting too. You want to know who else wasn't at the BOE meeting last night? Gina Genti. Patch said she blew off the executive session of the meeting last month too. If she is the only who cares so much why isn't she showing up to do the job she was elected to do instead of playing the martyr and posting lies all over facebook? She spends more time complaining about the other board members than she does trying to work with them and convince them to do things differently. Has she even attended a meeting yet with the two new board members? I also heard they restored most of the staff who were cut and provided a lot of data on academic achievement and areas where improvement is needed. But the people here are too busy bashing the district and the teachers and everyone else to pay attention to minor details like facts.
Veronica August 22, 2012 at 11:04 PM
While what you are stating is somewhat true, you have to also be cautious in believing everything that administration says. Don't you think they want to say what you all want to hear? Do you honestly think Malverne does or did so much better than the NYS numbers given by the department of education? Please don't be so naive.
Gina Genti August 25, 2012 at 02:12 AM
C.J. I was not at the meeting because I was away on a family vacation. I have been at 3 of the 4 meeting with new members. Those dates were in June, July 12 I believe and August 2. If you believe I am a liar and have been posting lies on line please call me at 551 1213 to discuss your information or feel free to post it here and I will address it that way if need be.
Todd Hundley August 27, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Since this thread has moved in all different directions, I have a new comment - What is/was the resolution of the criminal mischief and vandalism done to the grounds of MHS? Was this swept under the rug? It doesn't seem to be on the agenda of the school board meetings. I think the residents have a right to know that state of the grounds that we all pay the upkeep for, and for the status of those students who were pointed out on camera & questioned. Why are these students being protected internally? I tell you what, if they vandalized someone's home, sidewalk, driveway, etc, they'd be prosecuted or at least ordered to face the punishment of their crimes.
Chris T. August 27, 2012 at 06:04 PM
I was also wondering what ever happened with the buses that were set on fire last summer? Never heard anything about it.
Veronica August 27, 2012 at 11:16 PM
The students were never prosecuted and supposedly they had to work in the district for free to make up for what they did; and that was a joke in itself! So basically, they got away with it and you are right, if it had been someone's personal property they would have been arrested. They were protected internally.
Veronica August 27, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Good question! What did happen?
Jan Kasal December 13, 2012 at 04:19 PM
If you follow the Malverne school district news on a regular basis you are aware that the board of education has recently become an agenda of its own, not leaving much room for any other business. Its conduct has been divisive, obscure, and poisonous. The current school board is a burden and embarrassment to the school district residents. If you are ready to dedicate some time to prepare for the upcoming May 2013 school budget and school board member elections and to change the course, please join others by contacting me at vevajanka@hotmail.com

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