Administrators reject raises

By on June 19, 2019

Administrators at Warwick School District said they never expected to be rewarded for all they did to help heal the school district and community after the tragic events of last fall at Warwick High School.

So when the Warwick School Board suggested that a dozen top administrators receive 1 to 1.5 percent raises because of the “tragic events of last fall,” no one was prepared for the public outcry on social media.

The administrators will not be accepting the proposed raises.

“On behalf of the group of administrators slated to receive additional compensation as part of the board’s recommendation, we respectfully decline the additional salary increases,” reads a public statement issued on June 16 by the Warwick School District.

The statement goes on to say, “Our team is humbled by this gesture, and deeply grateful for the support and recognition of our board of school directors. We have felt that unwavering support throughout this very challenging school year and we are grateful for the board’s understanding and acknowledgment of the work of our team.”

“We lead with our hearts, and it was for that reason that we responded as we did for our families, our students, our staff and our community. We will continue to serve in this way due to our commitment to our Warwick family,” continues the statement.

The administrators declining the proposed raises are Dr. April Hershey, Dr. Melanie Calender, Dr. Ryan Axe, Nathan Wertsch, Mark Leidich, Dr. Kristy Szobocsan, Dr. KC Testerman, Sid

Harrison, Scott Kyper, Dr. Steve Szobocsan, Dr. Michelle Harris, and Dr. Jennifer Murphy.

“The spirit in which the board chose to recognize these administrators who were and continue to be directly involved with the fall events was never meant to diminish the work of others,” say the administrators in their statement. “The district recognizes and applauds the efforts of ALL district staff members for their tireless work assisting our students, families, and community during the fall and throughout the school year.”

Word about the proposed raises broke on Facebook and other social media late Thursday evening on June 13. The proposal for the raises was Attachment #4 in the upcoming agenda for the June 18 Warwick School Board meeting.

By the afternoon of June 14, comments questioned why certain administrators should get raises, while teachers, staff and emergency responders were not compensated for what they did to help at the tragic car crash that killed two high school students in October and the death of a student by suicide in December.
Among the comments were questions about who had proposed the raises. It was the Warwick School Board that proposed the raises, not the Warwick School District administrators.
In the June 16 statement from the Warwick School District, that was made clear.

“The board has been considering ways to recognize those administrative leaders directly involved in the multiple events that took place this fall. As a function of the administrative evaluation system, the board is permitted to provide additional compensation up to 2% for work above and beyond the normal scope of responsibilities.

Deciding to follow the existing procedures, the board chose this mechanism rather than creating a new or different process,” according to the statement.

The Warwick School Board cannot provide raises to teachers or other staff who are part of the collective bargaining agreement with the Warwick Education Association.

The statement continues with, “In consultation with the district’s solicitor, and in an effort to be transparent, the board was advised to create a board action explaining the rationale behind the proposed increases, so that there would be no question about why this action was being recommended for a specific group. This is required to keep the public informed, it is also a necessary function for auditing purposes.”

Warwick Superintendent Dr. April Hershey addresses the class of 2019 at Calvary Church in Lancaster, PA on June 11, 2019.

“It is important to note that no administrator requested any compensation of any kind for work performed this year in any capacity. To suggest anything different is not only untrue, but is quite the opposite of the demonstrated behavior of these individuals,” says the statement.

The public response on social media was not anticipated by the school board and administrators. As a result, the Warwick School District addressed the “trial by social media” aspect of the issue.

“The district does not and will not conduct its business or any dialogue via social media. The board holds public meetings twice a month and welcomes and invites public comments, questions, and participation.”

Additionally, anyone with comments, concerns or questions are encouraged to contact the district at any time through email or phone and will receive a prompt response,” reads that portion of the statement.

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