Raise Makes Brick School Business Administrator Highest Paid in District
One of the Brick school district’s most highly-paid employees was quietly awarded a raise at the Board of Education’s June 1 meeting, making him the highest-paid individual in the district.
James Edwards, the longtime business administrator, will see his pay increase from $176,74 to $178,508. He will receive an additional $4,000 if he chooses not to utilize the district’s health insurance plan.
The move will officially make Edwards the district’s highest-paid employee, with a salary higher than the state maximum even a superintendent can receive. Interim Superintendent Thomas Gialanella is paid $682.69 per day, the equivalent of a $177,500 salary.
Edwards is tenured in the business administrator position. The raise was quietly approved at the June 1 meeting. Breaking with tradition, a new contract was not specifically placed on the meeting agenda, rather, Edwards’ name was included in a list of non-union employees whose salaries were being set for the upcoming 2017-18 school year.
Brick Schools Slowly Gain Back Administrators After Cuts
The number of administrators in the Brick school district has experienced peaks and valleys over the last decade, but while the median salary of an administrator has risen, the cost per pupil has remained steady, an analysis of state data shows.
Interim Superintendent Thomas Gialanella told Shorebeat the district will go into the upcoming 2017-18 school year with 38 administrators. While that number is seven more than the lowest point over the last 10 years, it is still less than the 45 that the district employed during the 2009-10 school year, when a state budget crisis led to cuts in state aid and the elimination of numerous supervisory positions.
Meanwhile, over the last 10 years, the role of school administrators has become more rigorous.
“We’ve had a change in the evaluation system we have with our 800 teachers, and it is much more labor intensive than it used to be,” said Gialanella. “Those administrators are doing a lot more in the evaluation area than was ever done before.”
After the cuts to state aid, numerous positions were eliminated through attrition, and some administrators reverted to classroom teaching positions, said Gialanella.
Positions that were eliminated included the director of guidance, a fourth assistant principal at Brick Memorial High School, a social studies supervisor and assistant principal positions at Warren H. Wolf Elementary School(formerly the Primary Learning Center), Drum Point and Midstreams elementary schools.
According to data from the state Department of Education, in 2007 there were 218 students to each administrator. That number ballooned to 231 in the 2010-11 school year. For the upcoming 2017-18 school year, the ratio is back down to 215 to 1.
Though administrators at one point took a pay freeze, the median salary for a Brick administrator rose from $106,463 in the 2007-08 school year to $133,255 for the 2016-18 school year. Despite the higher salaries, the cuts of some positions have left the per-pupil administrative cost in the district essentially stable.
During the 2012-13 school year, after all of the previous cutbacks had been implemented, Brick spent $1,143 per student on administrator costs. That number only increased by more than $20 during the 2016-17 school year, when it rose to $1,175. But for the upcoming 2017-18 school year, the per-pupil cost will again dip – this time to $1,135 – even less than after the cuts were first implemented.
Gialanella said Brick is on the low side when it comes to administrative positions in New Jersey. Even some of the positions that are now counted as administrative already existed, but the positions were previously not included in the administrators’ union, the way the state calculates its numbers.
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BTEA President Tim Puglisi and BTEA Vice President Kevin Bliem accept a plaque from the NJEA officers President Wendell Steinhauser, Vice President Marie Blistan, and Secretary-Treasurer Seam Spiller. UniServ Representative Jennifer Raike is also pictured. The BTEA Negotiations team received the Jim George Collective Bargaining Award nominee plaque for having one of the top contract settlements in 2015. See image below.
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