BOE approves hire of new Business Administrator

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:27

    Salary to be $20k less than former BA Sparta — The Board of Education approved the hire of a new Business Administrator/Board Secretary at their meeting Monday night by a vote of 5-2. Linda Alvarez, who is currently the BA for the Highpoint Regional School District, will take the Sparta position vacated by Dr. Warren Ceurvels, who resigned in September. Alvarez is a Sparta resident who worked for the school district for 20 years, having served as a secretary. During that time she continued her education, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration at Centenary College and a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration at Farleigh Dickinson University. She continued with 145 hours of additional training to receive her New Jersey School Business Administrator Certification. Alvarez has now been a BA for the last eight years and has worked in Hardyston and most recently in Highpoint. She also has the distinction of being one of only seven business administrators in the state to hold the credential of Certified Administrator of School Finance and Operations. The SFO certification is not required but is a rigorous advanced certification program governed by the Certification Commission, a semi-independent certifying body of the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International. Alvarez will receive a salary of $150,000 a year, which is $20,000 less than Ceurvels’ $172,000. She will begin her work in Sparta as soon as High Point can find a replacement or an interim BA, which could be by the end of January. Until that time, current Acting Business Administrator, Barbara Decker, who served as Assistant BA under Ceurvels, will continue her duties as Assistant BA and continue to function as the Acting BA as well. Superintendent Dr. Thomas Morton recommended to the board that Decker be paid a stipend of $1,500 a month to continue in both roles and take on the additional hours of work until such time as Alvarez can be released from High Point. Morton said Decker is spending many hours working at home after her regular work day to complete the work that needs to be done. Board members Rich Bladek and Frank Favichia objected to the stipend amount for Decker and to the salary offered to Alvarez. They wanted to propose motions to amend these items on the agenda and to offer significantly lesser amounts. Both motions to amend the agenda were voted down by the board, 5-2. (Board members Ilse Wolfe and Doug McKernan were absent.) Morton said he researched current salary levels for business administrators in K-12 districts in northern New Jersey. Data reflecting 2010-2011 salaries indicated the median yearly compensation was $158,187. Adding two per ent, Morton said would reflect the median 2011-2012 salary for business administrators in these counties, which is $161,350. Research of school districts across the state with comparable enrollments of between 3,000 and 6,000 students, Morton said, shows that the median salary for a BA in 2010-2011 was $147,831. Adding the two percent shows the current median salary is $150,787. Morton said this is the information on which he based his salary recommendation for Alvarez. “I’m looking forward to coming home to Sparta and giving back to the community where I received the foundation for my career. Now that I’ve completed my education and training and furthered my career, I’m happy to bring all I’ve learned back to the Sparta school district and to continue the strong relationships I formed there years ago,” said Alvarez. In other board news . . . Concerns about spending Resident Susan McGrath implore the board to stop additional spending during difficult economic times. She referred to the difficulty some have with the increase in taxes and the loss of jobs. Morton responded by saying that the district cut $8 million from the budget in 2010 and has only put back in around $3 million since then. He said, “There’s been a significant drop in what we’ve had in the past. We’re still $4.8 million less than we were before.” Morton that his recommendation to the board this year will be to come up with a budget that is under the two percent cap mandated by the state and said, “We have to live within our means.” OPRA requests made public The board began a new practice of reporting on the agenda the number of open records requests received by the district each month, along with the names of the requestors, the amount of staff time taken to fulfill the requests, and the cost involved if attorney fees are incurred. Some residents objected to this practice. Morton said there had been significant costs for the district and the board had instructed him the information public.