Franklin Regional sets buyout cap for new superintendent
Franklin Regional School Board members say they are enthusiastic about Peter Emery D'Archangelo, hired last month as the district's new superintendent.
But the board has built an escape hatch into D'Archangelo's contract, just in case that enthusiasm wanes.
The five-year contract, approved unanimously Jan. 31, allows the board to dismiss the superintendent after a series of preliminary steps -- and it caps the cost of buying out his remaining contract at two years' salary, or more than $220,000.
D'Archangelo will be paid $110,000 per year, pro-rated, for the first few months of his contract. After June 30, his annual salary increases to $112,000.
Should D'Archangelo choose to leave the district before completing his contract, he must repay "a sum equal to 5 percent" of his salary at the time of his departure.
The payback provision was not included in the district's four-year contract with its previous superintendent, Pamela Pulkowski, who left Franklin Regional last spring with just 60 days' notice.
Board President Dick Kearns, who negotiated D'Archangelo's contract with board Vice President Jan Hill, said the contract language gives both parties a measure of security.
"It gives the person leaving some support until they get employed again, plus it helps the board," he said. "It works both ways."
Kearns pointed to Mt. Lebanon School District, which recently paid about $500,000 to end the employment of Superintendent Margery Sable, who had three years left in her contract.
In addition to capping D'Archangelo's buyout at two years' salary, the contract notes that payments would end sooner "if the Superintendent obtains re-employment, in any capacity." That prevents a superintendent from receiving a windfall after getting another position.
The 5 percent reimbursement for early departure, Kearns added, allows the district to recoup education costs. The contract calls for the district to pay for D'Archangelo to attend "those meetings and conferences which are appropriate to the position" of superintendent.
The board might make the reimbursement a standard provision in other employee contracts, Kearns said.
"I think the philosophy applies to everyone. Whether we wind up there or not, I don't know," he said. "It would tie into tuition reimbursement. If you pay someone to invest in their education and then they leave, you should get reimbursed for that."
Privately, some board members voiced complaints when Pulkowski gave her notice just a few weeks after returning from an education conference in England, which she attended at the district's expense. The board was unable to recover that cost because it had given Pulkowski $5,000 and two weeks per year for "intensive professional growth."
D'Archangelo will receive no such specific benefit, and he must seek the board's approval for conference attendance at least 30 days in advance.
"I don't see any reason to put a dollar figure on it," Kearns said. "If Emery needs something to improve himself, he'll bring it to the board and we'll discuss it.
"There is no need to bind yourself up to a number," he said. "Our mission is to be excellent in what we do, and we want our superintendent to be excellent in what he does. If he has a weakness and he needs to correct that, we want to give him that opportunity. We can budget something without having it in the contract."
Overall, Kearns said, the pact is in line with those offered to other superintendents in Westmoreland County. Among its notable features are:
After that, the superintendent will receive an annual increase of 3 percent per year, based on satisfactory performance evaluations by the board. An additional "merit adjustment" of as much as 3 percent might be added to the annual base salary "if the superintendent exceeds expectations" based on performance reviews.