Evesham BOE: ‘Yes’ to salary increase for superintendent, ‘no’ to increases for directors of curriculum and personnel

The issues come as the district continues to deal with an estimated total loss between $8 million and $9 million in state aid by the 2024-2025 school year.

The Evesham Township School District Board of Education has approved a salary increase for the district’s superintendent, while once again failing to pass increases for its director of curriculum and director of personnel.

The issues dominated much of the board’s nearly three-hour long meeting this week, and the discussion comes as the district continues to deal with an estimated total loss between $8 million and $9 million in state aid by the 2024-2025 school year.

Salary for the superintendent

In regard to Superintendent John Scavelli Jr., the board approved a 3 percent annual increase in Scavelli’s salary for each year of his 2019-2024 contract.

Leading up to the vote, Scavelli’s annual salary was $165,000.

This was less than the $170,000 annual salary he was originally hired with in 2010, prior to when superintendents across New Jersey were affected by then-Gov. Christie’s state-mandated cap on superintendent salaries.

For the 2019-2020 school year, Scavelli’s salary will reach $169,950, nearly returning to his original $170,000 figure.

While this is Scavelli’s first pay increase since he became superintendent in 2010, board members noted the state-mandated salary cap was actually increased in 2017.

Since that time, Scavelli and superintendents of districts similar to Evesham’s student population have has been eligible to receive as much as $191,584 per year, with 2 percent annual increases thereafter.

At the end of Scavelli’s current contract, his annual salary will reach about $191,000 in the 2023-2024 school year.

“I’m trying to be as reasonable as I think I can be when my colleagues and my counterparts are far outpacing where I am right now, but … I love my job,” Scavelli said. “I love working here.”

In discussing the issue, board members pointed to Scavelli’s years of experience and knowledge of the district, as well as the potential difficulty of replacing him with a candidate willing to accept $165,000 should Scavelli be denied a salary increase and choose to seek work elsewhere.

“I don’t want to pay $30,000 for somebody else to come here, who doesn’t have the loyalty, doesn’t know our challenges, doesn’t know our kids, doesn’t know our curriculum, doesn’t know us [the BOE] and doesn’t know our teachers,” Board Vice President Trish Everhart said. “I don’t want to take that risk.”

As announced at the board’s May meeting, the BOE examined the salaries of superintendents from 14 school districts in Burlington and Camden counties that fall into a similar enrollment category as Evesham’s district.

According to BOE, those annual salaries ranged from $165,000 to $213,747, and the average salary was $188,502. The BOE said those figures also do not factor in potential bonus-merit pay for superintendents.

However, looking to the future, board member Christopher St. John said he wanted to know what the district’s plan was to increase student proficiency in the areas of math and language arts, especially compared to the scores of students in neighboring Mt. Laurel.

“Mt. Laurel Township does what we do for about $2,000 less per student,” St. John said “On paper, and I know that doesn’t tell the whole story, but on paper, they score better than us.”

With the final vote on Scavelli’s salary, all board members present and eligible and able to vote on the matter at this week’s meeting approved the increase.

Those members were Everhart and board members Melissa Fleming, Janis Knoll, Dennis Mehigan, Lea Ryan and St. John.

Board member Nichole Stone was not present. Board president Joe Fisicaro Jr. and board member Elaine Barbagiovanni could not vote on the issue due to having family members employed by the district.

As for comments from the public, only two residents, Evan Scott and Lewis Kipness, spoke about the superintendent’s salary at the meeting, although each also ultimately said they believed the board should increase Scvaelli’s salary.

Salaries for the director of curriculum and director of personnel

As for the other two major votes of the evening, which took place before the discussion on the superintendent’s salary, the board ultimately did not pass the 2019-2020 annual salary increases for Director of Curriculum and Instruction Danielle Magulick or Director of Personnel Richard Dantinne, Jr.

The increases would have brought their salaries to $167,167 and $145,331 annually, respectively.

These two votes fell under the “old business” portion of the meeting, as they were originally on the board’s agenda at its last May meeting, where the vote was also defeated.

Magulick and Dantinne, as well as about 40 other employees, such as head custodians, confidential secretaries, computer technicians and others, are not represented by the Evesham Township Education Association or Evesham Township Administrator’s Association.

As such, their salary increases are not approved through contract negotiations between the BOE and those groups.

At the board’s final meeting in May, of the board members eligible to vote on the matter, all employees, as a group, were approved for the increase, except Dantinne and Magulick.

This is once again to rules where some board members could approve all the salaries in the group, and certain board members could only approve salaries outside of those for Magulick and Dantinne.

At the time of the May meeting, Scavelli questioned and voiced disapproval of the move, and said he would once again recommend at the items at the board’s June meeting.

However, similar to the final meeting in May, the board once again failed to pass the increase at this week’s meeting.

Everhart, Fleming, Knoll and Ryan voted “yes,” while St. John voted “no” and Mehigan recused himself.

Stone, who abstained from the vote at the May meeting, was not present at this week’s meeting.

Fisicaro and Barbagiovanni, similar to the May meeting, were once again unable to vote on issues related to Magulick and Dantinne due to having relatives in the district.

Mehigan said he chose to recuse himself at this week’s meeting because he originally voted “no” to the increase in May when it concerned all non-represented employees, and while he stood by that vote, he did not want to cast votes against two employees individually, as Magulick and Dantinne were now singled out.

Mehigan also said he believed the salary increase for the non-represented employees was too much with the state aid cuts looming, although he was open to discuss a smaller increase.

St. John said he also continued to oppose the issue based on the same financial reasons he expressed at the board’s May meeting.

Mehigan and St. John also attempted to table the two votes before the board made its decision to discuss the issues further, but their motion failed.

Other board members who voted to approve the increase for Magulick and Dantinne praised the two for their work the district, and Scavelli, who once again voiced displeasure at the failed vote, said he would recommend the issue for a vote once again at the board’s next meeting.