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School Board Appoints Facilities Manager

The Bensalem Township School Board voted on a facilities manager, as well as two individuals to serve in interim capacities.

Bensalem Township School Board appointed Thomas P. Gillette (left) and Thomas Vasek as interim facilities manager and interim assistant facilities manager, respectively. Photo credit: Theresa Katalinas
Bensalem Township School Board appointed Thomas P. Gillette (left) and Thomas Vasek as interim facilities manager and interim assistant facilities manager, respectively. Photo credit: Theresa Katalinas
After being listed on agendas for the last three months, the Bensalem Township School Board on Wednesday night appointed a new facilities manager. 

The board voted 5-3 to hire Robert Whartenby as the district's facilities manager. Board President Heather Nicholas and members Wayne Lewis and Pam Strange voted against the hiring. 

Nicholas said after the meeting that she was surprised that the matter, which had been on meeting agendas since Oct. 23, came up for a vote on Wednesday. 

She did not support the hiring because Whartenby "wasn't my first choice," Nicholas told Patch. 

"New board members had not reviewed with any of the candidates," Nicholas said. 

One of the three new members, Jennifer Ryan, said she was prepared to vote. 

"I read the resumes and I’m confident with a decision one way or another," Ryan said before the vote. 

Bensalem's Director of Human Resources Robert J. Cardillo told Patch that it was not certain if Whartenby would come to work for the district. It had been several months since Whartenby was interviewed and Cardillo said the district had not yet formally extended an offer of employment, or settled on a salary.

Cardillo said he would email Whartenby on Thursday with a formal offer. 

Whartenby, if he accepts the job, will be the district's first facilities manager since former Facilities Manager Robert Moseley was charged last year–along with 19 others–in connection with more than $1.5 million school district thefts

Board member Kevin McKay, who made the motion to hire Whartenby, called his hiring a "good decision" to "hopefully drive a culture change in this troubled division of the school system."

"I was impressed in his interview with his energy, his experience in private facilities and construction as well as in the public education sector and I look forward to working with him," McKay said in a statement.

In the time until Whartenby assumes the role, the school board approved the hiring of Thomas P. Gillette as interim facilities manager and Thomas Vasek as interim assistant facilities manager. Both hirings were retroactive from Jan. 14. 

Gillette will be paid $400 per day for a maximum of 90 work days, while Vasek will earn $250 per day for up to 90 work days. 

"I appreciate the board having the confidence in me," Vasek said. 

Gillette told the board he was "interested in helping out."

"I guess it's going to be pretty short, which is a good thing," Gillette said. 

Both men said they came out of retirement to serve in the interim capacities. 

The board also approved a maintenance department organizational structure, which revised the job descriptions and organizational chart for the facilities manager, assistant facilities manager, custodial services coordinator and facilities coordinator. 

The new structure was considered after the interim positions were voted on and McKay had made a motion to table the organizational chart until after Whartenby begins his post. But, Superintendent David Baugh suggested that the board instead approve the chart "pending review" from the facilities manager. 

"It allows us to move forward with the people here," Baugh said. 
Connie Youmans January 24, 2014 at 08:37 AM
How can the board vote to hire someone that they have not recently spoken with. This whole thing of a facilities manager has been a fiasco since the beginning. How can they have something on the agenda for three months, not act on it, not interview the candidates before the board and then have a vote. Smells fishy.
Jason January 24, 2014 at 11:09 AM
Its all about who you know to get anything done in this town. If you know the right people u can have any job u want. Think about it - Everyone that works in the township building has been there for yrs and yrs. I tried to get a job there and they never even acknowledged my resume. Same with school district. Its all inside family and etc….PATHETIC!!!
Narrah January 24, 2014 at 12:51 PM
Connie: Candidates WERE interviewed beforehand, and they chose someone who was actually qualified for the position. If they really wanted to screw themselves, they would've hired Mathieu for it. However, they knew that it wouldn't look good to have someone who was appointed to the position he currently has, WITHOUT ANY QUALIFICATIONS FOR IT, getting this position. Even more interesting, is that all of the criminal activity went on under his own nose, and he either knew nothing of it, or did nothing about it. THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMMMMM
P2YA January 25, 2014 at 11:54 AM
It is amazing they didn't find a way (or receive instructions from the Godfather Joe) to appoint Mathieu. After all, Mathieu is one of the anointed and a good party foot soldier, plus he recently lost his council seat. Hopefully Whartenby accepts the position. We need a fresh perspective, and by that I mean someone from the outside, to take control of the fiscal aspect of things and hopefully change the culture that gave rise to rampant fraud. By the way, Jason's correct. It IS all in the family in Bensalem. The township and school district employee rosters contain the same family/maiden names 2, 3, 4 even 5 times--all party affiliated naturally. Some families every member is in one way or another employed by a local government agency. Political patronage on steroids.
Narrah January 25, 2014 at 01:26 PM
I agree with you P2YA, it is "All in the Family".

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