Letter: Did UCF board violate the law?

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To The Editor:

At the UCF School Board public meeting on January 23rd, the Board members took the remarkable action of accepting Superintendent John Sanville’s resignation with two years remaining on his current contract. This is probably the best thing this current board has ever done.

However, right after this action the board took what is probably the worst decision ever made in our district. The members of the board voted unanimously to give John Sanville a new five-year contract with an increase in salary to $255000,or a 15.4% annual increase. After six years the Superintendent’s salary has nearly doubled.

If he completely serves out this new contract, he will have served roughly ten years with an average yearly salary of $240,000. Additionally he will have earned benefits for vacations, a sabbatical, health  insurance, and funds for retirement.

The board’s action is highly questionable, definitely unethical, and possibly illegal. When an open position occurs in the district, it should be advertised, those interested in filling the opening should be interviewed, and the best applicant should be offered the  position. Board ignored all these steps.

Since John Sanville became the UCF Superintendent in 2011 at an annual salary of $180,000, the student body has experienced extensive bullying, drunken students have entered the high school building during class time, and three students have entered the building armed with knives.

I DO NOT RECALL SUCH ACTIONS HAVING EVER OCCURRED IN THE SIXTY YEARS THAT I HAVE BEEN A RESIDENT OFTHE DISTRICT.

The Superintendent allows some out of district students to attend our schools without paying any tuition or taxes. John Sanville lied by claiming this was not occurring. I am aware and have also been told this illegal action is still continuing.

The Superintendent and Board approved a $70 million renovation and expansion of the high school. In taking this action, the public results of two district referenda were completely ignored.

Annual budgets have grown every year at an average rate 1% greater that the  educational cost of living increases. The district’s taxpayers have not  experienced a year without a tax increase since 1998.

John Sanville has lost two excellent members from his staff. These were Sharon Allen Spann, Director of Pupil and Staff Services, and Kenneth E. Batchelor, Assistant to the Superintendent.

And finally the annual ranking of schools done by U.S. News and World Report last reported our district ranked #8 in our State and #510 nationally last year. In 2012 the magazine reported that UCF was 4th in the State and #394. Both rankings are significantly lower since Superintendent Sanville was hired.

All these dreadful results occurred under Superintendent John Sanville’s time in office. The board gave no reasons why our Superintendent deserves a raise or even continued employment in our district.

OUR DISTRICT DESERVES A MUCH BETTER PERFORMANCE  BY OUR  SUPERINTENDENT.

Bruce B. Yelton

Pocopson

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3 Comments

  1. Tom Drake says:

    Mr. Knauss, I appreciate your comments. I would feel better if you mentioned how poorly this roll out happened. No information was publicly sent out. The vote happened with absolutely no chance for scrutiny by the electorate. Illegal or not this move the board made was poorly played.

    • Keith Knauss says:

      Mr. Drake, I can see your point about transparency. Could the board have publicized the contract at the work session and then gathered public input and voted on it a week later? Possibly. I don’t have any inside information. We know that Sanville was heavily recruited by another district and had an offer in hand. (What better way to gauge your market value?) There may have been a deadline that prevented public notification before the vote.
      .
      Was it a good decision to give Sanville a new, more lucrative contract? My experience with Sanville says yes. Comparative compensation data says yes. A unanimous vote of the board says yes.

  2. Keith Knauss says:

    Mr. Yelton has written a letter rich with errors. Let me correct a few.
    .
    Mr. Yelton says, “The Superintendent and Board approved a $70 million renovation and expansion of the high school.” Yes, they did, but Dr. Sanville had no part in the decision. In the 2006-07 school year when the referendum was held Mr. Sanville was a newly hired high school principal. Ms. Parker was the superintendent. It’s quite a stretch to blame Sanville since it would be another 5 year until he became the superintendent.
    .
    Mr. Yelton complains about the loss of “two excellent members from his staff”. I, too, was sorry to see both these people leave for advancement at other districts. But it is outrageous to blame Dr. Sanville for the normal movement of employees to better paying positions. In fact, Dr Sanville should be recognized for grooming highly sought after candidates.
    .
    Mr. Yelton writes about a few examples of recent egregious student behavior and relates that he can’t recall any such behavior in his 60 years of being a resident. Sanville’s lax discipline must be the cause. Actually, it’s the opposite with a zero tolerance policy I can assure him that similar egregious behavior has occurred over my 10 years of experience on the school board. He just hasn’t been aware since the identity of minor offenders is protected by law.
    .
    The title of Mr. Yeltin’s missive is, “Did UCF Board Violate Law?” He goes on with the bold assertion that “The board’s action is highly questionable, definitely unethical, and possibly illegal.” Not so! The only requirement in the School Code to hire a superintendent is a majority vote by the Board in a public meeting. There is no requirement to advertise the position or to interview multiple candidates. In the current situation that would be ridiculous since a proven, excellent candidate is at hand.
    .
    I could continue correcting other false assertions by Mr. Yelton, but in summary the only thing that is highly questionable and unethical is the letter to the editor written by Mr. Yelton.

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