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School Board Keeps Pay Raises in Place

The Weston Board of Education voted 4-3 at Monday night's meeting not to change its decision to award pay raises to three top school officials for the 2010-11 school year. Superintendent Jerome Belair will get a 9.5 percent increase, including 2 percent that was deferred last year. Assistant Superintendent Tom Scarice and Jo Ann Keating, director of finance and operations, will both receive 4 percent increases.

The board's decision to give the salary increases in tough economic times for the town caused uproar among Weston residents. The vote took place after the Board of Selectmen asked the school board a few weeks ago to reconsider its decision. The public was given the opportunity to speak to the board members.

One resident said the increased salaries for Belair, Scarice and Keating could result in a need for teacher layoffs. Others said they could not change the board member's minds no matter what they said.

Board member Sonya Stack said public comment is not just for official meetings; she said the board members are available to listen by phone or e-mail at any time.

Chairman Phil Schaefer said he would like to spread the raises out over a few years, but he did not feel the board could lower the increase overall because of a promise made to the school officials. Board members Denise Harvey and Richard Bochinski voted against keeping the raises.

Harvey said that in the July 26 vote, she did not stick with her feelings against such large raises. She said she agreed that raises are necessary to bring the superintendent's salary closer to the average of other superintendents in the area, but that she was in favor of a more modest raise.

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