Niagara Wheatfield School Board puts managerial raises in limbo - The Buffalo News

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Niagara Wheatfield School Board puts managerial raises in limbo

SANBORN – Pay hikes for a half-dozen managerial positions were put on hold Wednesday by the School Board, with some board members saying they shouldn’t take place at all.

Raises of 2 percent to 3.7 percent were on the agenda for approval, but board member Richard Sirianni said he objected to spending the money in view of the district’s financial status. He said his opinion was not a reflection on any of the employees, but he believes the raises were inappropriate because the district still faces economic troubles. Groups such as the teachers and the school-related personnel staff gave concessions at budget time, he said.

He reminded the board that it was “two months removed” from eliminating art and music programs, sports, and full-day kindergarten to prevent a large tax hike, and the perception would be one of disrespect to the taxpayers.

Board member Christopher Peters said he also had “a hard time with this one.”

Richard Hitzges, the board’s financial director, said raises for the managerial positions are not tied to a contract, and policy gives the board discretion in granting them. He said the raises were not included in the 2013-14 budget as a line item and this was the first time the board was reviewing them.

Superintendent Lynn M. Fusco said the positions received no raises in 2012, but no one at the meeting was able to say when the last raise occurred.

The district’s website shows that the pay hikes of 3.7 percent would target the district accountant and two head bus drivers, while the 2 percent raises would go to the director of facilities and school lunch director. The district treasurer was also on the list, but Ashley Wood had recently resigned from that position. As a result, any raise would be pro-rated to July 19.

The item was tabled in a 5-2 vote, with Sirianni and Richard Halleen in dissent. Before the raises are presented again, the board will be given a five-year history on the salaries, along with concurrent tax hikes.

Resident Rosemary Warren suggested the board look at each position to determine if any were assigned additional duties to justify the raise in pay.

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