Many parents, up in arms over the amount of absences of School Superintendent Steven Engravalle since his return from his leave of absence on January 2, have raised questions at Board of Education meetings regarding the terms of his contract.
Concerned parents and members of the community have filled meetings questioning his compensation, paid time off and other benefits as agreed to by the Board of Education and laid out in his contract. The Board's reply? They cannot discuss personnel issues in public.
Through the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), Patch has received a copy of Engravalle's employment contract, to shed light on the terms of his employment. The contract, approved by the Fort Lee Board of Education and signed by former Board President Arthur Levine and Robert M. Gilmartin, Executive County Superintendent of Schools.
Engravalle's three-year contract is effective for the period July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2015. The contract sets his annual base salary at $167,500 for the term of the contract.
The contract also states that he is eligible for "additional merit increases" beyond his base salary. The contract bases "merit increases" on the Superintendent's progress toward achieving goals set forth by the board. (Patch is requesting a copy of these goals, as they are not defined within the text of the contract.)
The contract states that the merit increase for achievement of "each quantitative merit criterion shall be 3.33 percent of the base salary and 2.5 percent of the annual salary for each qualitative merit criterion achieved."
According to the terms of the contract, this merit increase "shall not exceed 14.99 percent or $25,109 per year."
Regarding benefits, Engravalle's contact grants him 27 paid vacation days annually. The contract allows him to carry any unused vacation time forward. Board approval is required for any vacation longer than five days. Additionally, he receives 16 paid holidays and 12 paid sick days.
The contract also states "the Superintendent shall be entitled to leave, without pay deduction, in the amount and on such terms as determined in the discretion of the board in lieu of emergency and/or personal leave." In other words, unlimited paid leave--at the Board's discretion.
The contract also calls for an annual evaluation of Engravalle's performance by the Board at least once a year, "on or before April 1." The contract specifies that in the event the Board determines that the performance of the Superintendent is "unsatisfactory in any respect," it shall detail in writing specific instances of unsatisfactory performance and include recommendations for improvement.
The contract contains these provisions for termination:
- Mutual agreement
- Unilateral termination by the Superintendent
- Prior to the expiration of the contract, in the event of non-renewal of contract, the Board agrees it shall not unilaterally relieve the Superintendent of his duties during the term of the contract.
- Proceedings pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A: 17-1 which deals with removal during terms of office which essentially says that he shall not be dismissed, suspended or have his compensation reduced except for neglect, misbehavior and other offenses.
- In the event of a disability where the Superintendent's ability to return to work is affected, the Board can require that the Superintendent submit to a medical exam, at the expense of the Board.
Members of the Board will not comment on Engravalle's contract or confirm or deny any action regarding his employment that they may, or may not, be considering.
In an email requesting clarification on some of the provisions of Engravalle's contract, Board President Jimmy Park responded, "Please accept my sincere apologies for not being able to offer any comment on this matter at this point in time."
Stay tuned to Patch for continuing updates to this story as it unfolds.