NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — In a split vote, the majority of the West Essex Board of Education rescinded Superintendent Damion Macioci’s employment contract that began July 1, 2019 and was set to expire June 30, 2023.
In its place, a new contract was approved that commenced July 1, 2020 and expires June 30, 2024. Two board members were conflicted and abstained (Frank Perrotti and MaryAdele Wojtowicz), five members voted to support the new contract’s terms (Cynthia Egan, Anne Fahey, Anthony Rubinich, Debra Sacco-Calderone and Ray Stampone), and two members voted against the new contract (Jill Marcus and Jann Skelton).
The parameters of the original contract were determined by a 2011 law signed by former Governor Chris Christie that created a superintendent salary cap that was determined by the district enrollment. The terms of the original law were eased in 2017. Merit bonuses subject to approval by the county superintendents and which were optional may ultimately have increased base pay by a maximum of 14.99% and were subject to five goals, both quantitative and qualitative.
Macioci’s contract became effective July 1, 2019. Eighteen days later, on July 19, 2019, Governor Phil Murphy rescinded the law and multiple districts immediately began new contract negotiations with their superintendents. Macioci’s original contract provided the mandated base salary of $165,000 and provided for gradual incremental merit bonuses. On the expiration of his original contract if all merit bonuses were approved Macioci would have received $189,733.50 in compensation. The new contract, also a four-year contract now expires June 30, 2024.
Based upon the new terms of the successor agreement, for the first year the salary will be $174,620. There will be not be a 2% cost of living raise during the first year of the contract, but the remaining three years will provide for same. The final year’s compensation under the new agreement will be $185,308. Board attorney Stephen Fogarty confirmed if all bonuses had been approved in the original contract the successor contract provides a saving of $19,680 to the district. The successor agreement does not provide an opportunity to achieve merit bonus pay.
Roseland Councilwoman and former Roseland school board member Jean Perrotti called in to ask why the two members voted against approving the contract as it “provided a savings to the taxpayers.” Skelton responded that “after any circumstances after one year it is not a reflection or my opinion on Mr. Macioci’s performance, but it is a reflection on something that is completely very uncharacteristic to renew a contract after one year.”
Board member Rubinich remarked that they received an unsolicited proposal representing a saving to the district “I would submit that it would be irresponsible on the part of a board member to not consider that and if turns out even extending a year there are no guarantees, but it is a savings to the district and we are the taxpayers stewards as well.”
Board member Jill Marcus remarked that although she appreciates “all of Mr. Macioci’s efforts my reason for voting no on this matter was not for any issue with Mr. Macioci or his performance but it was the fact that the contract negotiation was bundled with an extension. While I support any savings to the district, and I support compensating Mr. Macioci and all of our staff competitively I was not comfortable extending the contract for the same reasons as Ms. Skelton. Had the compensation structure been separated from the duration and the extension of the contract I would have comfortably supported this contract re-negotiation.”
Negotiation committee member Cynthia Egan stated that this “was a negotiation and sometimes people feel that we are just accepting what was presented to us and it was not. There was a discussion; a counterproposal and this was an agreement by the majority, so I do not want people to think that this was an all or nothing proposal that was accepted.”