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Monongalia County AFT Week in Review

Devono pay hike irks AFT

Superintendent to get $32K in raises 

2/10/11

 
BY JIM BISSETT
The Dominion Post
 
   Frank Devono aced his review Tuesday night.
   The Monongalia County Schools Board of Education (BOE) unanimously
voted to give the superintendent a three-year extension on his contract
with a staggered raise that will total $32,000 for the length of the
deal.
   Devono, who makes $125,000 a year, will see his pay upped to $146,000
next year, and $152,000 the year after that.
   He'll close out the three-year deal with an annual salary of
$157,000.
   Devono will enjoy the additional heft in his paycheck while 70
teachers and other workers are considering their placement on the
reduction-in-force list for next year.
   The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) meets this afternoon to
plan a new strategy to fight Devono's pay hike.
   It's nothing personal - just paychecks, said Sam Brunett, a
Morgantown High art teacher and president of the county AFT chapter.
   "We really don't want to begrudge what people make," he said, "but
there is a definite issue of inequity. Our teachers haven't had raises
for four years."
   That's where today's meeting comes in, Brunett said. The AFT plans to
take lessons from New Jersey and Arizona, since both states now have
legislation on the books that caps how much school superintendents can
earn.
   BOE president Barbara Parsons said Devono is being paid accordingly
for his services.
   "We're exceptionally pleased with his performance," she said
Wednesday. "He's done everything we've asked him to do. We think he
should be respected for his fairness and willingness to discuss tough
issues."
   Devono, a former Harrison County teacher and principal who was hired
six years ago, was named State Superintendent of the Year for 2010 this
past summer by the West Virginia Association of School Administrators.
   How much Devono will now earn over the next three years, the BOE's
vice president Joe Statler said, didn't happen on impulse.
   Devono, Statler said, could have pursued other opportunities. Like it
or not, the board member said, the business of education is just that: A
business.
   "If you were going to go out and look for another superintendent," he
said, "it would cost $40,000 or $50,000 for a job search. And I think
we'd have to pay the next person even more [than Devono.] You don't want
to bank on the uncertainty."
   Last week, the board pulled a job posting, which would have created a
new director's position in the board's Central Office on South High
Street, which the teacher's union protested.
   Brunett penned a letter two weeks ago in official complaint on behalf
of the union, which likened the creation of the new job to "another bale
of hay on this camel's back."
 
 
 WDTV NEWS COVERAGE OF ACTION PLAN MEETING
 
 
 
 
 
UPDATE 2/11/11
 
School unions will address Devono raise
 
Committee to send letter to legislators
 
BY JIM BISSETT
The Dominion Post
 
   Two unions representing teachers and other employees in Monongalia County Schools have formed an “action committee” to address a recently approved pay raise for Superintendent Frank Devono that will add $32,000 more to his salary during the next three years.
   “This is something we’re going to take from the county to Charleston,” said Sam Brunett, a Morgantown High School art teacher and president of the county chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
   A couple dozen members of AFT and the Mon chapter of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association met Thursday afternoon to make their complaints official about the salary increase granted by the Board of Education (BOE) earlier this week.
   Brunett said committee members will work during the weekend to draft a formal position statement that will be sent to state lawmakers early next week.
   BOE members voted Tuesday night to extend Devono’s contract for three years — while writing raises for each year of the deal.
   Devono’s current salary of $125,000 will jump to $146,000 — or 15.2 percent — next year.
   The year after that, he’ll make $152,000 and will close out the threeyear deal with an annual salary of $157,000.
   Tom Bloom, an AFT member and University High counselor, said he expected the across-the-board raise for every other employee in the district.
   “A superintendent is only as good as the teachers and service personnel who work with him,” Bloom said, “so I’ll be looking forward to my 15.2 percent raise as well.”
   “That’s exactly what our position is,” said Frank Caputo, an AFT legal representative who serves several districts across the northcentral West Virginia. “We’ve been saying all along it’s about inequity in the system.”
   According to numbers culled from the state Department of Education by Brunett, Devono is the fifthhighest-paid superintendent in the state, coming in behind his peers in Berkeley, Kanawha, Raleigh and Putnam counties.
   At the end of his contact extension three years from now, according to those numbers, his $157,000 a year will put him second behind Berkeley’s Manny Arvon, who will be the highest-paid superintendent in the state at $169,939.
   Mon teachers, meanwhile, are 22nd in the state in pay, with an average salary of $44,141, Brunett said, and the $26,201 annual average pulled down by the county’s service workers put them at 16th in the state.
   The additional $32,000 Devono will make could be used to pay for classroom aides, said Karen Guminey, president of Mon’s service personnel union chapter.
   “We need help in our classrooms,” she said. “And our people are totally upset with the RIF.”
   RIF is the reduction-inforce list mandated by the state that charges school districts with the task of laying off or transferring employees based on current class rolls and projected kindergarten totals for the coming year.
   Seventy teachers and others were placed on the RIF list last month, and both unions took offense at the timing of Devono’s pay hike — plus the posting of another newly created director’s job in the district’s central office.
   While Devono and the board did nix that posting two weeks ago after complaints by the teacher’s union, BOE President Barbara Parsons said the superintendent’s salary increase will stand.
   Teachers’ paychecks, she said, are supplemented by health-benefits packages. And Devono, she said, “is being paid accordingly” to oversee a complex organization.
   “We have 10,000 students and 1,200 staff members,” she said. “There’s a whole transportation system and food service system. There are CEOs in the area who have less responsibility and far larger salaries.”