Laurel Highlands board OK raises to handful of administrative employees
By Cindy Ekas
Published: Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, 6:16 p.m.
The Laurel Highlands School Board granted pay raises Thursday night to the superintendent's secretary, business manager and two employees in the district's technology department despite opposition.
Kim Pegg, who had been working as a confidential secretary in the district's administrative office and is now serving as the secretary for Superintendent Jesse Wallace, will receive a 5 percent pay raise with an additional $2,500 stipend this year. Pegg will also see her salary increase 5 percent the second year and 3 percent each during the third and fourth years.
School board member Jamie Miller-D'Andrea said she believes Pegg does an excellent job, but she does not support the school board increasing employees' salaries when the board recently voted to increase property taxes for homeowners.
Wallace said Pegg has actually been performing two secretarial positions in the district because the confidential secretarial position has been eliminated in an effort to save money.
“The school district is actually compensating Pegg for performing two jobs,” Wallace said.
The board also voted to approve wage hikes for its business manager Greg Hensh, who is currently earning $78,000 a year.
“Our business manager isn't earning what he should under the industry standards,” Wallace said. “Business managers in similar school districts across the state usually earn 85 percent of the superintendent's salary.”
Wallace said his salary is $112,000, which means Hensh should be earning between $95,000 and $97,000 a year.
The board approved wage hikes for Hensh of $5,000 this year and next year and 3 percent for the following two years. After the four-year period, Hensh will see his salary jump from $78,000 to about $91,000 to $92,000, which Wallace said still falls below industry standards.
Miller-D'Andrea also voted against the pay hikes.
“Mr. Hensh does an excellent job as our business manager, but I'm voting against his pay increase for the same reason,” she said.
Leonard Niell and Brice Yuras, two employees in the district's technology department, will each receive $3,000 raises for the next three years. The employees currently earn $41,000, and their salaries will jump to $50,000, Wallace said.
“This is going to cost the school district an additional $18,000 over the next three years,” Miller-D'Andrea said. “They both do an excellent job, but the school district and the taxpayers can't afford this right now.”
In other business, the school board entered into a four-year contract with its secretaries and aides, effective July 1 this year to June 30, 2012.
Under the terms of the agreement, Wallace said the district's 19 secretaries will have their salaries frozen this year. The wages will increase 3 percent the second year, 2.5 percent the third year and 2.75 percent the fourth year.
The salaries of the district's 50 aides will also be frozen this year. The aides will then receive 55-cent-an-hour pay hikes each year during the next three years.
Cindy Ekas is a contributing writer.
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