Acting superintendent's $40K bonus draws ire of Gateway parents
Some are questioning the Gateway School Board's decision to give a $40,000 bonus to administrator Bob Reger for the additional hours he worked as interim superintendant since last April.
The school board voted unanimously Nov. 14 to pay Reger an additional $5,000 for each of the eight months he helped run the district after former Superintendent Joseph Petrella resigned.
The district budgeted more than $58,000 for a superintendent's salary from July through November. Because the position was vacant, the funding is available for other uses, such as the salary bonus, board members said.
“Mr. Reger volunteered and stepped in during a very chaotic period of time, when we had a superintendent decide to leave rather abruptly,” board member Skip Drumheller said at last week's school board meeting. “As you all know in this room, this is a very trying period for all of public education, particularly in this district. Mr. Reger accepted those responsibilities … he helped us avoid a catastrophe.”
School directors commended the numerous 12-hour days that Reger worked over the last eight months.
However, some taxpayers argued that the bonus is too generous, particularly at a time when the district is cutting bus service for financial reasons.
“You are accountable for how you spend our money, and tonight, you spent $40,000 with a lot of money needed for transportation and other needs,” resident Michelle Vojtek said.
Gateway reduced its transportation costs this year from about $4 million to $3.7 million by eliminating routes and midday busing.
With the money saved, school board member Bob Elms last month proposed spending $5,000 to transport hockey and lacrosse teams. His resolution failed in a 5-4 vote.
This month, the parents and coaches of seventh- and eighth-grade wrestlers asked the district to bus students from Gateway Middle School to the high school during a time in the day when most parents work, parent Dana Boehm said.
It would cost about $3,840 per week for about eight weeks to transport the wrestlers, school board President Dave Magill said.
Also, some parents have argued that midday busing should be provided for private-school students, after Gateway eliminated half days this year to cut costs.
Vojtek said the board should have put more consideration into the needs of the district before awarding Reger an additional $40,000.
“ I'm not saying Bob (Reger) didn't deserve that money and earn that money, but when you hired him as acting superintendent, you should have agreed upon how much you were going to pay him and done it then.”
School Board President Dave Magill asked Vojtek if she worked and if she earned overtime.
“No, I do not,” Vojtek replied. “I get a straight salary, and I just worked a 12-hour day myself. In the real world, which I want (the school board) to start thinking about … things like this don't exactly get rubber stamped. There should have been discussion, there should've been more thought put into giving him and rubber stamping $40,000. That's a lot of money.”
Petrella quit his position at Gateway to become superintendent of the Diamond Lake Elementary District in Illinois.
His permanent replacement, Nina Zetty, is slated to begin working at Gateway at the start of December. Zetty is wrapping up her tenure as superintendent of the Peters Township School District.
Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or firstname.lastname@example.org.