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Parsippany Reduces Allotted Salary for Seitz After County Superintendent Fails To Approve Budget

Salary slashed to about $205K for next year.

After County Superintendent Kathleen Serafino withheld approval of the Parsippany School District budget on Monday, Board President Anthony Mancuso reduced the line item amount of according to school board member Andrew Choffo.

The line item was reduced from $216,000 to about $205,000 according to Choffo, who didn't have the exact figure offhand.

But he said that Seitz's contract still stands and his actual salary would be unchanged. The line item only reflects the amount of money budgeted to pay Seitz next year. By the time the money is spent down, Choffo on the validity of Seitz's contract.

Choffo declined to comment on what might happen if the state decides against the BOE.

He called the alterations submitted to Serafino "a compromise."

Last month, unless the board rescinded Seitz's contract, which pays $216,000 this year and would pay about $234,000 in 2015. But under a statewide salary cap, administrators in districts the size of Parsippany cannot make more than a base rate of $175,000.

Under the proposed budget, Seitz would receive the $5,000 allotted by the state for districts with two high schools and a 15 percent merit increase, Choffo said.

Board member Robert Crawford said he didn't think the terms of the new budget met Serafino's requirements. 

"Dr. Serafino instructed the board to take certain actions in terms of bringing the superintendent's salary in compliance with the law," he said.

According to Crawford, Mancuso's  response letter was writte in a "combative, arrogant" tone and he didn't consult the full board before sending it.

"Once again, the board president has taken a unilateral action in response to Serafino," he said.

Mancuso could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Crawford questioned whether Seitz was deserving of a 15 percent merit pay increase, saying the board never reached a consensus on what would constitute exceptional performance and whether Seitz met those standards.

Crawford said he was requesting an "emergency meeting" to discuss the budget.

"I think we should meet as soon as possible," he said.

steve revette March 22, 2011 at 11:14 PM
So much drama in the board of education.
Leo Ballard March 22, 2011 at 11:25 PM
They have made a game of this now. Are they mocking Serafino or do they just think everyone is stupid? This is insulting to all of the people concerned about this issue. Translation: People of Parsippany, we are going to drag this out, find every loophole we possibly can, and Seitz is going to get his money because eventually you will stop paying attention. Sincerely Mancuso, Choffo et al.
Sharon Maroldi March 22, 2011 at 11:37 PM
That is bait and switch and completely unethical in my opinion. The budget should represent our best estimate as to what we will be spending. If the Board agrees that we expect to pay a certain amount, that amount should be put in the budget. And, I do mean agrees, because we have a group of people in place for a reason - to serve as a cross-section of the taxpayers of Parsippany and represent us. No one person should be making decisions and not including the rest of the Board.
Jeffrey Kreitman March 23, 2011 at 12:22 AM
OK -- love the creative accounting by the BOE. Wonder if Serafino will see through it. Sharon is totally correct in her assessment. Again, continued poor decision making by this board.
steve revette March 23, 2011 at 01:08 AM
Yes they keep thinking that Serafino is going to approve the budget but obvioussly it is not going to happen. All I know is Parsippany better have the number 1 ranked schools in the state after this whole Seitz issue if they went thru this much crap to keep him.
Diane Campbell March 23, 2011 at 01:47 AM
I can not agree more, Sharon. This is a complete "bait and switch" I am so frustrated by this Board. It is no longer about the children of Parsippany but rather the egos of the people that are supposed to be representing our children. Do they honestly think that by telling us that they are playing a game... that makes it ok??
Donna Jo Tanner March 23, 2011 at 01:52 AM
If this new modified budget is not approved by the whole board, is it even valid? Don't they have to meet to vote on it? How can the board president act unilaterally? He is not supposed to have that power.
steve revette March 23, 2011 at 01:54 AM
Wow I think Donna is right. But it is not going to make a difference anyway the budget will not be approved by the taxpayers.
Diane Campbell March 23, 2011 at 02:14 AM
Donna, I believe you are right but honestly, does this behavior really surprise any of us?? They dismiss any suggestions or questions brought to their attention at BOE meetings, they go ahead and approve things without us knowing, they withhold information about communications prior the meetings...this is how they do things. I don't know how this allowed to continue but apparently, they feel they can do what they want. I attend my fair share of meetings and I can tell you that the feeling in that room is that they could care LESS what the parents of Parsippany are saying and now they can care less what the County Superintendent is saying. It is beyond words how upsetting this is.
Donna Jo Tanner March 23, 2011 at 02:16 AM
But isn't the board purposely lying to the county (and state) about what they will be spending on that line item? Certainly seems illegal. It's absolutely unethical!
steve revette March 23, 2011 at 02:19 AM
It is the Parsippany Board of Education we are talking about. They do not care about anybody except Dr Seitz and his ridiculous salary. The funny thing is they think the can treat the TAXPAYERS like garbage and expect us to approve the budget. I cannot wait until the budget gets voted down I for one hope the council makes a huge cut to teach Mancuso a lesson.
Ellen March 23, 2011 at 03:45 AM
While I understand your upset and you are certainly entitled to your opinion, I fail to see how the Council making a huge cut "teaches Mancuso a lesson". It may effect programs which effect children, parents and home values. A vote in the future against Mancuso is a lesson, a vote against the budget is a vote against your own home value.
steve revette March 23, 2011 at 11:45 AM
Maybe it is. But a vote for the budget is saying that I am behind everything they are doing which is definitely not the case.
Sharon Maroldi March 23, 2011 at 01:07 PM
Generally, I can understand the hostility since there seems to be an attitude by the Board that they are above the law (Seitz' contract, kicking out members of the general public from "open meetings," deciding to file a lawsuit without considering the taxpayers). I don't condone it, but I do understand it. That being said, though, it would be difficult to vote for a budget when right here we have a case where the Board is falsifying budget dollars by knowingly fudging a number that they fully intend to pay more for, just to get it passed. It definitely makes you wonder how the rest of the budget was constructed.
Concerned Member of the Community March 23, 2011 at 01:11 PM
It is just me? Does Mancuso really think that by changing the line item the county will then approve the budget? Does he think they are stupid? Contrary to the article’s sub title the salary has not been slashed, the line item was just reduced. They did not rescind the contract as ordered. They will still be paying him his salary they agreed to. I do believe most people DO NOT understand that the line items make no difference once the budget is approved. The Board can then move money from just about any item to any other. continued in next post...
Concerned Member of the Community March 23, 2011 at 01:12 PM
So let’s get some answers Mr. Chaffo.. as you are the only one who seems to have the jewels to answer questions. And please do not hit us with the issue is under ligation. The only part of this that is under litigation is whether or not the Parsippany BOE had written approval as required by law.… So most if not all of the questions that are being asked here and at Board meetings can be answered. a.)Was Mr. Mancuso given permission by the Board to take the action he took, that is making a change to the budget and resubmitting it? b.)Was the entire Board aware, in advance, of the action Mr. Mancuso was going to take? c.)Why was this not discussed at an open Board meeting? d.)Is it true that if the county super rejects the line item change (which she will) the budget will not even be put on the ballot and that the state dept of ed will handle it from that point? e.)The Lawyer that is being paid for by the Board of Ed; is he the same lawyer that recommended the BOE file suit? If so then the lawyer is profiting by his own recommendation. f.)I keep hearing that Seitz would be eligible for a salary close to what the Board approved. It was a base salary, then an extra amount for the size of our district and then a merit portion. Did the Board vote to approve the amount that would be merit portion?
Jeanne Stevens March 23, 2011 at 03:36 PM
I am so fed up with all of this. In today's economy, people should be thankful that they even have a job. A 15% merit increase is absurd. If Seitz has any integrity at all, he would refuse it. What kind of message is this sending out to the students? These people should be ashamed of their behavior. Can they not recognize when wrong is wrong?
Ellen March 23, 2011 at 04:25 PM
It doesn't take Mr. Choffo to answer many of these questions, simply having attended Board meetings would answer these. I can tell you A) yes...the Board voted to give Mr. Mancuso that authority at the November 9, 2010 board meeting per the resolution they voted on. B) depends how you define this, again see A, they gave him the power to do so c) not sure I understand the question, why was what not discussed d) do not know e) Yes, it is the same lawyer but I believe the President of the Board requested we file suit. Under your thought process though, any time any attorney suggests a course of action it is to their benefit. If Mr. Tabakin says "I will research x" he profits. This is America, we pay people to work and we pay professionals for their opinions. f) I believe the answer is yes and then some. The Board voted on a contract on November 9 which I think we all agree is above the current (though not in place in November) cap. Thereofore by breaking it down if we paid Dr. Seitz the maximum salary, plus the high school bonus, I think it would be accurate to say the merit portion was higher than 15% to get to the number the Board voted on. In fairness two Board members voted no but overall the salary had Board approval
steve revette March 23, 2011 at 05:55 PM
Mr. Mancuso did not have approval. It was half and half but clearly the board was divided on the issue. Mr. Mancuso thought he had the authority because he thought when they approved the contract to do whatever necessary to get it passed. No the board was not aware of Mr. Mancuso's antics until after he did it. What is so special about Dr. Seitz? Igraduated from the district I know how bad the school district really is. There is something up with this lawyer too. He is suppose to be working for the board but clearly he is working for Mancuso. Also like I tell people it isn't the lawyers decisiion about what can and cannot be talked in public it is the board. At the meeting at the highschool there was so much drama aboput what could and could not be talked in public. They should have just voted on it because board works in a majority.
Parsippany Parent March 24, 2011 at 02:12 PM
Does Mancuso think we just fell off the turnip truck? What an insult, this needs to stop.... And it is not just Setiz's contract, it is the entire school administration, do we seriously need 40 some school districts in Morris County, we only have about 75000 students here if I'm not mistaken. Why on earth do we need Superintendents, Director of Curriculum, etc etc. for each and every town? Imagine the money we could save (and spend on teachers) if we consolidated ALL of the administration to the County Level? It would not hurt the kids, it would not hurt the schools, after all we do have capable Principals in all of our schools, that know what the are doing in terms of running our schools, don't we?

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