From this mornings Republican-American…..
BY RUTH EPSTEIN
FALLS VILLAGE — Most of the questions raised at the Region 1 Board of Education budget hearing Wednesday focused on administrative contracts.
As in years past, the turnout was low. Of the approximately 25 people who attended the session, about 10 weren’t school employees or members of the press. The region covers the six towns of Canaan, Cornwall, Falls Village, Kent, Salisbury and Sharon.
Business Manager Samuel J. Herrick took the audience through the document, explaining the various line items that cover the three components.
Marshall Miles of Salisbury and Falls Village First Selectman Patricia A. Mechare reiterated their concerns about extending the central office administrators’ contracts again by one year, so they would now end in 2015. The two have been outspoken during the budget process about their disagreement with the procedure, which was done last year as well.
Mechare again talked about the letter written by Town Attorney Judith Dixon at the behest of the Falls Village Board of Selectmen last year calling it “a poor business practice.” Mechare said she spoke with her again earlier in the day and “she hasn’t changed her mind. She said the playing field is not level with the advantage to the administrators, not the taxpayers. I’m disappointed the board will not listen and come back and discuss it.”
Dixon is also the town attorney for Canaan and Sharon.
Both this year and last, some board members said not giving the administrators contract extensions gives them the message their performances are in question and they should start to look for jobs elsewhere.
“My beef is the extensions,” said Miles.
“When you start adding more things, like vacation days and annuities, that’s not an extension.
It’s a new contract.”
He noted that according to the assistant superintendent’s contract, she can leave with 45 days notice, but the board has no such option. “That’s wrong and it bothers me.”
Herrick was questioned about Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain’s annuity, which this year is part of her salary line, rather than in the pension line where it was in the past. Both Miles and Mechare said the procedure appeared to be in conflict with the way the state Teachers Retirement Board suggests.
Miles said having the salary and annuity in two separate line items “would make the public feel better.”
Herrick said the procedure was reviewed by two attorneys and someone from the TRB and everyone agreed it was appropriate.
Falls Village resident Louis Timolat wanted to know, “Is there something wrong with the teachers’ retirement system that an annuity is necessary?”