Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Eye of Mordor is Fixed on Bethlehem Area School District

The relentless and fiery glare of the Eye of Mordor - Morning Call columnist and blogger Bill White prefers that title - is currently fixed on the top administrative salaries at Bethlehem Area School District. Here's the top ten.

Joseph Lewis, superintendent, $164,800.
Stanley J. Majewski Jr., assistant superintendent for finance and administration, $130,223.
Robert Gross, assistant superintendent for human resources, $123,488.
Richard Agretto, director of special education, $123,572.
Robin Lutcher, director of information technologies, $112,793.
Dean Donaher, director of special programs and athletics, $105,493.
Joann Durante, Liberty principal, $104,293.
Mike LaPorta, Freedom principal, $104,293.
Scott Gilliland, director of facilities and operations, $103,086.
Thomas Washington, director of student services, $102,588.

It's almost as much as a blogger, and still lower than most plumbers.


Anonymous said...

Leaving the obvious comments about the BASD gravy train to others, I'll simply ask: does the Lehigh Valley really need so many school districts? They may not get as fat as in Bethlum, but other districts offer pretty sweet deals for their goldbricks as well. That's likely not going to change, but perhaps we could consolidate and eliminate the overlap? Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

With luchter suspended and saving the BASD 2 weeks of her pay they can now lower the rate of the tax increase. MOST of the clowns mentioned will tell you that in order to attract good people you need to compensate them well. Either that or the leaders need to be connected or related. Remember we have debs, the high school graduate with the real estate licence (selling houses on BASD time) earning over $78,000/yr, with bennys costing the BASD taxpayer near $100,000/yr and she is only ONE example.

Anonymous said...

"I'll simply ask: does the Lehigh Valley really need so many school districts?"

No we don't, but the people in Parkland would never want to be responsible for "those people" in Whitehall or Allentown. Keep "those people" away from our kids...

Consolidation (municipalities too) is probably politically infeasible in PA at this time. County based districts have worked in other states but PA doesn't share very well.

Anonymous said...

Bernie you missed a very important consultant. D'huy Engineering, you know the firm who actually also owned the architectural firm that they were supposed to be protecting the school district from. They are Joe's buddies. Afterall, Tom Delucio landed his son in law a nice position @ D'huy just before Joe Lewis took over for him. And Joe has kept the favor going D'huy's fees for 2007 = $4M. D'huy's fees since 1994 = $24M. Architecture Furst fees = $5M. Nothing like double dipping into tax dollars. You gotta love that pay check.

Now thats some serious cash. Now the county has hired D'huy to do the work that their architect should have done for them on the courthouse expansion. Boy i hope the county doesn't get stuck on the D'huy - lets suck up all of your money train.

Actually I'm surprised that they clients haven't figured out that they really don't do much at all. They basically collect a middleman fee. Boy i hope the county doesn't waste anymore money on them.

Bernard P. Fife said...

Studies have shown that consolidation with small rural school districts (300 or less students) saves money but consolidation with large districts does not. In fact, as districts consolidate, they tend to add more administrators, rather than pare down. I spent 20 years living in Florida and experienced their “county” school districts. It was an administrative nightmare. Some counties in Florida are considering changing to city school districts because their county school district is becoming too large and too costly to manage.

Anonymous said...

..."does the Lehigh Valley really need so many school districts?"
Does the state need so many counties? Does the country need so many states?

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I would have expected a pay scale roughly 1/3 higher than listed. (not including benefits, of course)

Far less expensive to pay more for excellent administrators that can cost effectively manage the school district.

Anonymous said...

One of the advantages of larger, i.e., county school districts is it leads to a more equitable funding of the individual schools. While political borders always are a problem, areas with low student densities, high incomes, and high real estate values (read this suburbs) can more easily fund their schools then the cities (read this Allentown).
Because rich areas don't want to support poor areas, getting the suburbs to willingly join with the cities is pretty much impossible.
Does money equal quality schools? No it does not. Does it help? You bet.

Anonymous said...

Does the state need so many counties? Does the country need so many states?

What a devastatingly cogent retort. Huh?

Anonymous said...

ANON 11:41 am

Maybe you haven't experienced the administrators we have in BASD. Superintendent Joe Lewis, for example, after 4 years decides that one of the people who works in his office is really not needed and all of her work can be done by the rest of the staff without negative consequence. What does he do? He makes her the director of PR because he cannot bear to let her go (read: he cannot make the decisions he is paid to make).

Stan Mejeski leaves the district for three weeks for greener pastures at NCCC, returns to his job at a higher salary and becomes Dr. Lewis' lap dog. Now that the budget he overlooks is $5.5MM short even with a 5.4% tax increase AND the distric is low on cash, he blames the gap on "unforseen expenses" in a MC article. One of the "unforseen expenses" is $940k of debt expenses. Which leads to the question: how do you have unforseen debt expenses? Did he forget about $40MM of debt?

I could go on, but the bottom line is these guys are incompetent at best, fraudulent at worst. Along with a compliant school board these hucksters have started a great school distric down a very nasty path.

We have a $2MM/ year expense on a laptop computer program they cannot justify with higher test scores. We have $435MM in debt that has to be paid down ($18MM or 10% of the current budget goes to interest on the debt). And we have test scores that have gone down every year Dr. Lewis has been Superintendent.

Oh yeah ... he also increased the number of administrators since he took over. Because we need someone who hasn't taught in 20 years making curriculum decisions for $100k per year!!!

To sum it up, we have a more expensive education system with future costs that will substantially increase as a result of debt service and principal repayment (it gets real nasty in 10 years or so), and a less well educated population. If that's what we get for $165k plus benefits, I would hate to see what we get for $250k + benefits.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:41

If you lived in or followed the BASD you would certainly not be refering to them with your statement. Most school districts are administrator heavy with salaries far out of proportion to what they do. Districts are burdened by nepotism and cronyism that would put governement to shame.
I have a feeling you know this.

Anonymous said...

Bernie --- while I am a taxpayer and resident in the BASD, and not necessarily a supporter of big salaries, you need to realize that the administrators in the BASD are doing double work as compared to most of their counterparts, except Allentown. Two AAAA size high schools, multiple middle and gobs of elementary schools. I don't think the salaries are that bad when compared to what is being paid at other districts for administrators being responsible for much less. Just my opine