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Central Bucks hires interim superintendent, solicitor despite criticism


Central Bucks School Board has appointed Jim Scanlon to the role of acting superintendent for six months, amid the Republican minority’s concern he was being overpaid.

The retired West Chester Area School District superintendent will be earning approximately $135,000 for his time, a figure that irked some on the board and some in the audience. Adding to the resistance was the difference in the daily payment, which board president Karen Smith said was $1,350, but is rather $1,713.15.

However, explained Smith, Scanlon’s pay is $1,350 (plus travel time), while the remainder of the $1,713.15 will go largely to Educational Staffing Services, which is the actual employer, as the district can’t hire him directly, according to Pennsylvania school code. The Bucks County Intermediate Unit gets a small fee for managing the staffing agreement, Smith said.

Additionally, unlike other district employees, Central Bucks is not paying Scanlon’s health benefits, which, Smith said, typically adds 50% to an employee’s salary.

Board member Debra Cannon joined fellow Republican board members Lisa Sciscio and James Pepper in opposing the hire. Cannon said she was “astounded” by the pace of the decision.

“We are in fast forward now because a lot of actions of the previous board have left us in a situation where our administration needs answers,” said Smith.

CB parent Corinne McKnight, said she “welcomed Scanlon” and “looked forward to becoming a community again and starting to heal.”

Smith thanked assistant superintendent Charles Malone, who served as acting superintendent following the sudden resignation of Abram Lucabaugh after a Democratic majority was elected in November.

“We’d like to publicly offer our gratitude to Dr. Malone for stepping in following the abrupt departure of Dr. Lucabaugh and to all of our cabinet members for filling in during this time,” said Smith.

She and other board members noted a full-time interim superintendent is especially important at a time when the some 18,000-student school district is undertaking a “large, very complex” grade realignment, as well as several lawsuits.

Republicans also did not support hiring David Conn, of the New Britain-based Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams law firm, as the board’s solicitor.

The new board is also facing a fresh lawsuit claiming it violated the Sunshine Act when it failed to provide proper public notice for items on its Dec. 4 agenda.

The suit contends the Democratic-majority board placed items, including the hiring of Conn and suspending the appeal of a redistricting map, on the agenda inappropriately. On Jan. 11, the board again adopted the measures.

Smith said the board’s action on Dec. 4 was necessitated by the prior board’s refusal to place the matters on that agenda, its last as a Republican-led board.

Mike Sobczak told the board it was “making headlines” by its actions to suspend policies, such as one that allowed the removal of books with “sexualized content.” He called on the majority to end suspension of several controversial policies, some of which prompted an ACLU lawsuit.

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