Thu Feb 21, 2013, 04:25 PM
HiPointDem (20,729 posts)
Charter School "Chef" gets premium for sleeping with the CEO
A March 2012 menu feature at Camden's LEAP Academy University Charter School was grilled cheese, tomato soup, peas, and fresh fruit. This month, the menu features grilled cheese, tomato soup, and strawberry applesauce. A more striking change than in the menu is what executive chef Michele Pastorello is getting for his work now - a $24,000 raise from last year. He will make $95,000 this school year - significantly more than comparable food-service directors' salaries in other New Jersey public school districts.
Pastorello is also the live-in boyfriend of the founder and board chair of the charter school, Gloria Bonilla-Santiago... Because of her personal relationship with Pastorello, Bonilla-Santiago recused herself from any votes dealing with the food-service contract, Dvorin said...A school district of fewer than 5,000 students would generally pay a food-service director - the post comparable to executive chef at LEAP - between $45,000 and $50,000, said Tom Dermott, president of Clarion Group, a food-service consulting firm....But $95,000 is "pretty steep . . . well above market rate" for a charter school with about 1,000 students, Dermott said.
Oh, she "recused herself," did she? Well, then, everything must be just fine! Nothing to see here folks, move along...LEAP, of course, is the charter that lost its non-profit tax status and has now put its bonds, guaranteed by Rutgers-Camden, at risk. The charter, which has failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress for years and underperforms relative to its student population, has an anti-union past and a history of athletic recruiting violations. Bonilla-Santiago has been accused of using school personnel for her personal benefit. The school is the center ring in New Jersey's charter school circus...
Meanwhile, Camden's public schools - you know, the ones that have to serve the kids LEAP won't take - are crumbling. And the beautiful, deserving children of Camden - who live in one of the poorest, most dangerous cities in America - wait and wait and wait for new schools that will teach all of them...And yet Commissioner Chris Cerf, oblivious to LEAP's many problems, happily cut the ribbon this past fall on the charter's new facility:
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