Senate Panel Endorses Stefano Bill To Increase Transparency in School Hiring Decisions

The Senate Education Committee today overwhelmingly passed legislation sponsored by Senator Pat Stefano (R-32) that would provide for greater transparency in the process of hiring of school officials and ensure that taxpayers have access to employment contract information.

Senate Bill 592 would require school boards to publicly disclose employment information before hiring a district superintendent, assistant district superintendent or principal.

Stefano introduced the bill following an audit by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale last year of Connellsville School District which uncovered questionable practices and a lack of public input in the hiring of the current superintendent.  The school board assured state auditors that it was conducting a nationwide search to fill the position, but days later filled the position at a meeting which was not publicly advertised.  A last minute-addition was made to the agenda to hire the superintendent without public notice.

“This outrageous failure to notify or inform the public cannot and should not be tolerated,” Stefano said.  “Taxpayers should have information on employment contracts and decisions – they shouldn’t be railroaded through and approved in secrecy.”

            Under Stefano’s legislation, when a school board extends an offer of employment to a district superintendent, assistant district superintendent, associate superintendent, or any principal, it must first post the terms of employment on the school district’s public website at least two weeks prior to it being approved. The posting must provide the details of the final offer, including salary and the length of the employment contract.
            “This legislation will give taxpayers an opportunity to examine the terms of employment contracts that the local school board extends to key district employees and provide their feedback, concerns or support to their elected officials,” Stefano said “In a time of tight budgets, and taxpayer concern over rising property taxes, it’s imperative that the hiring process be as open as possible.”

Senate Bill 592 now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

CONTACT: Ben Wren (717) 787-7175