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‘Grove Supplemental Payments Draw Scrutiny

POTTSTOWN PA – Almost eight pages of names and proposed accompanying fall-season supplemental payments – valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars for Pottsgrove School District student coaches, advisers and coordinators – caught the surprised attention Tuesday (Sept. 29, 2015) of the Board of School Directors. Its members ultimately approved the lengthy list, but said they wanted to re-examine and better understand how and why the costs were necessary.

The positions and associated payments are necessary to ensure students’ sports, in-school and extracurricular programs across all five buildings are well supervised and operated, administrators said. The majority of recipients are district employees who hold salaried or hourly-wage jobs, and who are additionally compensated for the extracurricular efforts.

Tuesday’s list carried more than 170 names, with several individuals holding as many as three and four different titles and receiving compensation for each. Payments ranged from more than $500 to more than $5,000, depending on the complexity of and time required for the duties involved and other factors, administrators have said in the past.

The positions, titles and responsibilities are part of the district’s earlier labor agreements, and if changes were attempted they would be the subject of collective bargaining, Superintendent Shellie Feola noted.

“So you’re saying this is something we’ve got to do?,” director Rick Rabinowitz asked. No, Feola replied, the board could choose to withhold any or all payments, but without them it seemed likely some student activities might not continue as planned.

The payments, which occur about three times each year, usually are approved without comment as a routine matter of business. The volume presented Tuesday (the list took up almost half of the 18-page board agenda) caused directors to pause.

Director John Rossi observed the number of individuals receiving multiple payments, and wondered if positions could be more evenly distributed among more people. He also questioned the duties of some. “We’ve got to make sure we get the best for our money,” he said.

Not all positions acknowledged by labor contracts are being filled, Feola said, and no payments are being made for them. Director Dee Gallion recalled that positions were reviewed during an earlier board Athletic Committee meeting, and that at the time members decided to purposely leave several unfilled.

“I’ve said this before,” director Patti Grimm added, “but I think we need to understand it all better.” Board President Justin Valentine agreed: “It’s definitely something the incoming board needs to take a look at in December,” he suggested, “because it’s a big-ticket item.”

In the end, directors unanimously authorized the list and its costs.

Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ Sept. 29 meeting):

Photo from Google Images

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