Hiring called into question by East board member
By Stephanie Lulay firstname.lastname@example.org January 18, 2013 7:10PM
Updated: February 22, 2013 6:20AM
AURORA — An East Aurora School Board member is raising questions about a school administrator who is slated to be officially hired next week.
East board member Ray Hull said Friday he will not vote to approve the appointment of a new operations manager at the board’s Tuesday night meeting. The district’s personnel report, which would include the hiring, usually is rubber-stamped by the board.
“I don’t have enough information about the candidate and his credentials,” Hull said. “I have asked for that information and I have not received it.”
The School Board is scheduled to vote on the appointment of contractor Marty Feltes as the district’s new operations manager, an administrative post.
Feltes has longtime ties to East Aurora board member Richard Leonard. Leonard, who served on the four-person committee that recommended hiring Feltes, said he’s “absolutely” good friends with Feltes.
“I wouldn’t recommend him if I wasn’t. I have a lot of friends and Marty is the only one I’d recommend for this job,” Leonard said.
“(Superintendent) Dr. (Jerome) Roberts is the one who makes the final choice,” Leonard noted.
The School District posted the operations manager job opening in March, May, August and November of 2012, according to Joan Glotzbach, assistant superintendent of human resources.
The March job posting was advertised in three places: on the district’s website, in The Beacon-News and on Monster.com, an online job site. In May, it was advertised in two places: in the Chicago Tribune and on the Careerbuilder.com website for 30 days.
In the job postings on Aug. 24 and Nov. 30, the job opening was only advertised on the district’s website.
The March and May job descriptions listed nine qualifications for appointment to the administrative position. The first qualification was a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college.
But when the position was reposted in August, the job description was revised, listing the first qualification as a bachelor’s degree or “commensurate” — meaning equal — work experience.
Feltes, a lifelong East Sider, has owned Marty Feltes Plumbing and Heating since 1984. He has been a contractor since 1967 and has been friends with Leonard since he was 15-years-old.
“Many businesses accept life experiences as equal to a college degree,” Feltes said.
Leonard said the operations manager position does not need to be a college graduate.
“We had Nestor (Garcia) in there for how many years? And that did not serve us very well,” Leonard said.
Nestor Garcia, who has a master’s degree, is the former director of operations at East Aurora but now serves as the district’s athletics and student activities director.
The most recent round of operations manager candidates were interviewed by four people, according to board members: Leonard, Roberts, Glotzbach and board member Anita Lewis. Leonard is chairman of the district’s Buildings and Grounds Committee.
Hull, who serves on the Buildings and Grounds Committee, did not sit in on the December operations manager interviews. He did sit in on earlier interviews when the district did not hire any candidate.
Hull said he, too, had a friend who applied for operations manager position, but that candidate was not interviewed.
Hull said Leonard had a conflict of interest in the hiring of Feltes.
“In the future, if there are issues with the director of operations — how can Mr. Leonard fairly participate in a process that may result in a disciplinary action or dismissal?” Hull asked.
Leonard said he did not think being part of the hiring committee was a conflict of interest.
“(Feltes) is a businessman, he ran maintenance at Provena for 25 years. He has the best qualifications for this position and the (maintenance department) is starved for knowledge,” Leonard said.
School Board President Annette Johnson said she was aware that Leonard and Feltes were friends, but did not give it much thought.
The candidates who interviewed for the position in the first half of the year did not meet the district’s criteria — prior experience overseeing multiple facilities and supervising a large number of personnel, Hull said.
Hull said that the group of candidates who interviewed in December were previously disqualified in the initial job search. They were never interviewed in earlier rounds, he said.
“In other words, Mr. Feltes did not make the cut the last time,” Hull said. “So I’m not sure what changed that he became the most qualified candidate in this round of interviews when he was deemed to not even get an interview the last time.”
Feltes said he has worked on projects at East’s Dieterich Elementary School and East High.
“It’s a free-for-all in the maintenance department. The amount of work that’s getting done is minimal at best,” Feltes said. “That’s why I’m interested in taking a position there, because I think I can make a difference.”
According to the East Aurora job description, the operations manager is responsible for grounds, maintenance, emergency procedures, and custodial services.
The new operations manager falls within a pay grade of $66,900 to $92,455. An exact salary was not available Friday.
East Aurora also employs a construction manager. According to that job description, Construction Manager David Finlay is responsible for the district’s construction, renovation and maintenance projects.
Finlay has a degree in architecture, is paid a salary of $77,900 and was hired July 1, 2011.
Leonard said he has issues with Finlay’s performance. Johnson said the construction manager position will not be eliminated at this time.