Nancy Hines retained as Penn Hills School District superintendent with no pay increase the next five years
Penn Hills School District officials approved a new five-year contract with Superintendent Nancy Hines.
There are no wage increases throughout the life of the deal, which expires June 30, 2023.
The board voted 8-0 to approve it June 25. Denise Graham-Shealey was absent.
Board President Erin Vecchio said freezing the superintendent's $140,000 annual salary was Hines' idea.
“She lives here. She's invested in the community and wants the district to recover,” Vecchio said.
Hines was a Penn Hills High School biology teacher from 1996-2001 and high school principal from 2005-08.
She was named assistant superintendent in July 2014.
Hines became acting superintendent in February 2015 and took over for Thomas Washington, who resigned the month before. She was formally promoted to superintendent in June 2015.
Hines thanked the board for its support, and said she loves serving the people of Penn Hills.
“It is a privilege and honor to serve your community, but it also includes admitted challenges,” Hines said. “There is limited privacy for you and your family, and friends and neighbors can become offended when you refuse to comment on confidential matters. However, working for your community also makes the job more meaningful. I know personally what's at stake not only as a parent but also as a resident and taxpayer. Having that multiple perspective really guides me and motivates me at the same time.”
Three of Hines' four daughters graduated from Penn Hills, and her youngest will be a high school student next year.
Money is one of the biggest challenges facing the district, which is more than $170 million in debt — largely due to the construction of the high school and elementary school. Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.'s office is investigating the district for alleged misuse of taxpayer funds and other alleged criminal activity.
It's unclear when the investigation, which has been ongoing for more than two years, will conclude.
Vecchio said Hines has been a stalwart superintendent throughout the ordeal and has helped move the district in a positive direction.
“She stood with us through thick and thin here,” said Vecchio. “She could have run away any time. She just keeps doing what we need to do.”
The DA's investigation is in response to the May 2016 release of an audit by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, which alleged that mismanagement of funds, bad decisions and lack of oversight put the district in debt.
The 74-page audit covered July 2012 through June 2015, when Vecchio was not on the board.
Hines said via email that she spoke with Zappala, who is expected to have a thorough report.
“He made it very clear that his goal is to be able to tell the entire story, because Penn Hills residents deserve to know all of it and how we got to this point,” Hines said. “My current goal is to try and keep everyone calm and focused until that investigation closes. After that, we'll have to quickly assess the resulting damage and build from there. Fortunate for us, our administrative team now includes individuals who are battle ready and who have developed nerves of steel. I suspect both will be essential as we work through the aftermath.”
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, email@example.com or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.