Wednesday, April 19, 2017


John Ramos
The special school board meeting set for tonight to hire an outside attorney is being done to prepare for contract negotiations with Superintendent John Ramos that could lead to a salary increase when the state-mandated salary cap changes.

We reported Tuesday that the special meeting had been called to approve the hiring of Attorney David B. Rubin of Metuchen. The agenda stated, in part, that:   

Mr. Rubin shall provide legal advice and representation as may be requested by the board or its duly authorized representatives pertaining to the board's employment relationship with the Superintendent of Schools.

The related resolution to be approved tonight authorizes the district to hire Rubin at a rate of $185 per hour beginning April 19 through the board reorganization meeting of January 2018.

But it was unclear why the hire being done or what aspect of the board's relationship with the superintendent was at issue. 

Elizabeth Baker

School Board President Elizabeth Baker on Tuesday evening clarified the situation when asked to explain exactly what Rubin would be doing. She said via email: 

As set forth in the Superintendent's employment contract, there is a reopener provision that is triggered this May when the state-mandated salary cap changes. At the time the contract was negotiated, the District employed an in house attorney as District Counsel and Mr. Sayovitz of Schenck Price acted as the Board's special counsel with respect to the negotiation of that employment contract. 

Now that Mr. Sayovitz is working as District Counsel and in district part time during the week as part of the administrative team, it is appropriate for the Board to retain special counsel to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

The board has been reviewing how to react to the expected lifting of the state superintendent salary cap that had limited Ramos' salary to $177,500 per year. The expected salary cap change, most likely in May, would allow a raise of up to $191,000.

Ramos is in the second year of a five-year contract. 

The board held a previous special closed meeting on April 3 to discuss Ramos' contract but no information had been revealed about that meeting, or any future plans for his salary or contract.

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