Unfortunately school committee member Margaret Watson has not done her homework on the WRSD budget. Her recent comments are long on claims but short on verifiable facts.
Ms. Watson claims that Mr. Pandiscio’s has not “received more than $100,000 in pay raises since he began his tenure with the District.” Per records supplied by the WRSD under the MA Public Records Law Mr. Pandiscio’s salary in FY05 (the year before he became superintendent) was $110,598.82. His current salary is $192,818.58 (until July 1st when it goes up again). This is an average salary increase of just under $12,000 per year ($11,745.68 per year). Is anyone else out there in the district getting an average of $11,745.68 in raises per year?
Under his current contract Mr. Pandiscio’s salary will continue to increase to $210,698.07. His ending salary of $210,698.07 minus his starting salary of $110,598.82 equals a total salary increase of $100,099.25. Again, these figures were all provided in writing by Mr. Pandiscio under the MA Public Records Law.
Ms. Watson states Mr. Pandiscio’s “salary is nowhere near the highest in the Commonwealth”. But by his own admission Mr. Pandiscio’s salary is “somewhere around 13th in salary rank in Massachusetts”. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Pandiscio’s claim but even if correct being 13th out of the 328 school districts listed on the MA DOE web site would make Mr. Pandiscio’s salary higher than ninety-six percent (96%) of all school districts in the entire Commonwealth (including Worcester). Higher than 96% of all districts listed and Ms. Watson claims Mr. Pandiscio’s “salary is nowhere near the highest in the Commonwealth”???
In addition to his nearly $200,000 per year salary Mr. Pandiscio gets five weeks and two days of vacation plus three weeks of sick leave plus one week of personal leave plus one week of bereavement leave plus twelve paid holidays (three months off) per year. Mr. Pandiscio also gets an expensive Smartphone plus an iPad and he is reimbursed for all of his expenses.
Ms. Watson makes similar attempts to defend the WRSD’s 60+ custodians (an incredible 126,880 man hours per year) but she fails to mention the additional $150,775 they spend each year for custodial supervision. She also doesn’t mention the thousands of dollars they spend every month to provide dozens of expensive iPhones and Android Smartphones to custodians, food service employees, outside consultants, special ed aides, administrators et al. Or the 22.7 hours a Central Tree school employee spent on her district cell phone in one month. Ms. Watson failed to mention the $542 per day ($67.75 per hour) we spend on a retired (already collecting a pension from us) district employee now acting as a part time ‘curriculum consultant’. This is on top of the more than $500,000 per year we already spend for five full-time ‘curriculum consultants’. She neglected to mention the millions of dollars they want to spend on their iPad experiment or the 240 iPads they have already purchased (apx. $120,000 plus thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars in grant money they have already spent for iPad apps). Mr. Pandiscio claims we have the lowest per-pupil spending “in any district in Massachusetts” but FY11 (latest available) DOE records clearly show at least eight other districts with lower per-pupil expenditures plus eleven other districts that did not report their spending.
Ms. Watson mentions that Auburn high is slightly more than one-third the size of Wachusett but she fails to answer the question of why the WRSD needs five times the number of assistant principals at Wachusett high and why they need nearly ten times the number of cell phones as the entire Auburn school district.
Oh and Ms. Watson definitely does not want you to remember the last time she questioned my facts. You may recall her embarrassment when the MA Inspector General’s Office released the twenty-seven (27) page report on their thirteen month investigation of Al Tutela and the WRSD budget. That report alone noted $138,595 in questionable WRSD expenses.
In a recent online comment Margaret Watson went on to make maliciously false claims about my wife and myself. On a number of occasions I have challenged Ms. Watson to a one on one televised public debate of the ‘FACTS’. To date she has failed to respond.
It is time for Ms. Watson to come out in public and debate the facts in a televised forum. We should let the voters to decide who is right and who is wrong.
OK Margaret the ball is in your court but I suspect you will continue to find some convenient excuse to avoid trying to defend your version of the facts in a televised debate.
We need to educate children and that costs money. We also need to be sure that the WRSD is spending nearly $100 Million per year of our taxes wisely. We tried giving ex-superintendent Al Tutela a blank check and we all remember how that ended.