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Superintendent given 3.5% raise as part of new contract

Published August 10. 2010 05:00PM

The head of the Northern Lehigh School District has received a 3.5-percent salary increase as part of a new five-year contract.

The school board on a 6-3 vote Monday approved the new contract for Superintendent Michael Michaels, who was in the second year of a four-year contract.

With the increase, Michaels, whose salary was $111,780, will now make $115,692. His contract will span through the 2014-15 school year.

Directors Gregory Williams, Lauren Ganser, Raymond Follweiler, Donna Kulp, Natalie Green and board President Edward Hartman were in favor. Directors Mathias Green, Lori Geronikos and Gary Fedorcha were opposed.

An earlier motion by Fedorcha to table the matter was defeated by a 6-3 margin, with Mathias Green, Geronikos, and Fedorcha in favor, and Williams, Ganser, Follweiler, Kulp, Natalie Green and Hartman opposed.

Mathias Green said he attempted to have some dialogue with the board, as well as Michaels, with regard to a performance review.

"In all my years, I've never seen a performance review where there was no review of performance," Mathias Green said. "I need to say this board has done none of that, and I'm disappointed."

Further, Green said he wasn't comfortable voting for an extension during the middle of a contract.

"I'm not comfortable without dialogue with the superintendent," he said. "There [eventually] could be six new members on the board, and I think they should have the chance to do that."

Green said his decision was nothing against Michaels.

"This has nothing to do with the superintendent; if the contract was up right now, I would vote to extend it hands down, without question," he said. "He has done a great job."

Fedorcha said he could not vote in favor of the extension because it goes against school code.

"An extension of a contract is not a part of school code," Fedorcha said. "I do not agree with the method with which this is being handled."

Geronikos said that while Michaels clearly deserves an extension, she could not vote for it in the middle of a contract.

"I agree 100-percent with what everyone's saying; I think Mike's done a great job as superintendent," Geronikos said. "It just goes against everything I've ever been taught."

Earlier in the meeting, the board, on a pair of 8-1 votes, agreed to give both Michaels and business manager Jeremy Melber a 3.5-percent salary increase, retroactive to July 1, 2010.

Melber, whose salary was $80,000, will now make $82,800. Director Lauren Ganser cast the sole no vote both times.

"Historically, I usually vote no on these types of items," Ganser said. "Given our state of the economy, I would be remised if I voted in favor."

Ganser said her votes were not personal, and that she had "nothing against either of the individuals and the job they're doing."

Hartman said Michaels was not in attendance because his father passed away earlier in the day.

"We wish the best for Mike and his family," Hartman said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Mike and his family at this time."

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