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Oceanport BOE Holds Hearing on Super's Contract, Which Rolled Over Without Notice in 2011

The board needed to give a one-year notice if the contract was not to be renewed.

When Andrew Orefice was appointed Oceanport's superintendent in 2007, his three-year contract stipulated that it would roll over for another four years if the district did not give written notice, one year in advance, that he would not be reappointed.

That one-year mark came and went in 2010 and so the contract automatically rolled over for renewal in July 2011 under the same terms and conditions.

This past summer, Orefice signed a new contract with the district through 2015, which was the subject of a public hearing at last week's board of education meeting. (The contract, which has been posted on the district's Web site and available at the superintendent's office, can be found alongside this article.)

"Did anyone know about the roll over?" asked board member Jay Coffey at the Jan. 17 meeting. "Something should be built into the agenda (as a reminder)."

Board President Colin Soyer indicated that no one on the board at that time was aware of the deadline. He added, "It's our obligation not to assume someone's going to alert us."

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Orefice said that he was aware that his contract had rolled over and assumed he and the board would "eventually" work out a new one. "I was happy and never thought about [the deadline]," he said. "I knew they wanted me and I wanted them.

"I never feared I wouldn't have a contract," Orefice said.

Prior to joining the board, Coffey questioned the boards attorney at the July 19 meeting about its decision to forgo a public meeting on the superintendent's updated contract, a decision that was supported by the county superintendent. The board decided to "err on the side of compliance," Orefice said, and give the public an opportunity to ask questions. The hearing was originally scheduled for a board meeting in December but was pushed back to January to accommodate a scheduled PTO event.

The new contract, signed on July 19, was modified from its predecessor to reflect new salary caps in place for superintendents and health insurance was amended to reflect latest statutory limitations. Other changes included the addition of reimbursements for expenses such as professional conferences and tuition. Orefice is now limited in the number of sick days he can claim upon separation of service.

Instead of the annual 4.5 percent increases outlined in the earlier contract, the new contract sets specific salaries for the superintendent beginning with $130,657 for the 2012-13 school year and increasing to $133,270.00 and $135,000 over the next two years.

An initial version of the updated contract was kicked back by the county superintendent in June for revisions to reflect current statutes.

Coffey said he did not fault Orefice for failing to notify the board of his contract's pending rollover in 2011. "If I'm Andrew — like the teachers — I'm scratching for every penny I can get.

"Shame on us," Coffey added.

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