Sanville gets 15 percent pay increase

John Sanville

John Sanville

Unionville-Chadds Ford School District Superintendent John Sanville now has a new contract, which includes a 15.4 percent pay increase. The pay raise jumps Sanville’s salary from $214,000 per year to $255,000.

The new five-year contract makes Sanville the second highest paid superintendent in Chester County, among districts with only one high school.

Sanville was still under his old contract, but the board voted to void the old one and give him the new deal. The procedure for the change included having Sanville resign, then to be re-hired.

Board President Vic Dupuis said discussions regarding the new contract began in the fall when directors learned that another district was looking to hire Sanville away from U-CFSD.

“We are absolutely convinced that we have the best CEO onboard for this district at a reasonable level of expense,” Dupuis said.

Dupuis said Sanville’s previous contract had him at the bottom tier of Chester County school superintendents, but that he warranted more because of the district’s high performance.

“We felt that as one of the top performing school districts in the state and in the country, we wanted to recognize that in our CEO,” Dupuis said.

Director Steve Simonson, who chairs the board’s personnel committee, said Sanville’s annual evaluations by all directors have been consistently high over the years.

Director Gregg Lindner said it was his feeling “and that of the balance of the board that the right thing to do was to keep Dr. John Sanville in the position. It was unanimous that that’s what we wanted to do…It’s a substantial salary increase, but when you’re look at a superintendent you want to keep, you pay him the market rate…There was nothing that would have changed my mind about keeping Dr. Sanville.”

Sanville said he was “humbled” to continue serving as the district’s superintendent.

He’s been employed in the district since 2007 and has been superintendent since 2010.

The vote for the contract was 8-0, but some residents expressed concern over the new salary.

Former school Director Holly Manzone, of Pocopson Township, said the pay raise was excessive, calling it “completely out of line.”

She questioned the board’s ability to honor its fiduciary responsibility by redoing the contract for more money.

“What’s going to happen the next time the teachers’ contract comes up? Are they going to get a 20 percent increase? You really need top think about the consequences of your decisions,” Manzone said.

Peter Shea, of Birmingham Township, said Sanville should not have gotten a new contract while he was still under the old one.

“He approached the board and said if you don’t give me more money, I’m going to have to leave,” he said.

Shea added that the board came up with a good solution but, “The question is, what’s going to come up next. It seems the contract is set up in such a way that in a year, or two years, we’d be faced with the same situation.”

He also questioned where the board would find the additional $40,000 for the new contract.

Tom Drake, of East Marlborough Township, suggested Sanville’s pay raise wasn’t justifiable, saying it’s more than for superintendents in New York, Dallas and Los Angeles.

He added that the percentage of the increase is far more than the 1 to 5 percent most people in the district get.

Rhetorically, he asked, “At what point is this helping the school district? Better yet, at what point is this salary request greed?”

Amy Baram, of Pocopson Township, praised Sanville, calling him “a fabulous leader,” but said residents weren’t given adequate time to review and understand the nature of the contract before the board voted on the issue. She said most people she had heard from only learned of the new contract two hours before the meeting.

The board also approved the appointment of John Nolen to assistant superintendent. Nolen replaces Ken Batchelor who was resigned from the district to become the superintendent of schools for the Radnor Town ship School District.

Nolen’s contract is for five years. His beginning salary is $185,000, prorated for the remainder of this current school year.

Dupuis said the board decided on the compensation after looking at other, similar-sized districts in Chester County. The position, he added, is in the top third in Chester County.

The board will make annual evaluations of Nolen’s performance, Dupuis said.

Nolen has been working in the district for 14 years. He is a former principal at Hillendale Elementary School and most recently has been serving as the director of Curriculum and Instruction for U-CFSD.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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