The Vernon school board hired a new business administrator despite concerns over her conflict of interest.
The school board agreed, in a 8-0 vote on Oct. 7, to appoint Barbara Decker as the district’s new business administrator starting on Dec. 9. Her contract runs through June 30, 2022, at a prorated annual salary of $175,000.
School board member Theresa Scura Coughlin abstained.
Bill Higgins, a former school board member, told the board it was wrong to appoint Decker because her family owns Decker Transportation, a business on Vernon Crossing Road that provides busing services to the district.
He also advised board members to abstain if they were concerned about it but didn’t want to vote “no.”
Superintendent Karen D’Avino said the job description for business administrator will be revised to eliminate any responsibility regarding transportation. She said those responsibilities will be reassigned to herself, to Assistant Superintendent Charles McKay, or to transportation coordinator Marisa Broesder.
The school board approved the amended job description on Oct. 14. Only Coughlin voted against it.
Transportation bid openings also will be removed from the business administrator’s purview. D’Avino said she will also have the district’s auditor review every purchase order with Decker Transportation.
She said Decker’s conflict does not prevent her from doing the rest of the job.
“I understand the concern,” D’Avino said. “But we are going to do everything we can to remove any kind of involvement of our new business administrator with the responsibility toward transportation.”
Decker will replace Theresa Linskey, who submitted her resignation to the school board on Sept. 9. Her resignation will be effective Nov. 1. Linskey has worked in the district since Feb. 11 replacing the former business administrator, Steve Kepnes, who filled the position for about a decade.
Linskey was officially approved on Dec. 10, 2020, at an annual salary of $170,000, which was prorated for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. She didn’t receive a raise for 2021-22.
“It’s hard to find a qualified BA,” Higgins said. “I know you just went through the process of hiring one who is now the former BA. It’s a very important position within the community.”
“I understand the concern. But we are going to do everything we can to remove any kind of involvement of our new business administrator with the responsibility toward transportation.” Superintendent Karen D’Avino