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JCPS board disagrees over administrator's pay increase

JCPS board disagrees over administrator's pay increase

March 18th, 2018 by Phillip Sitter in Local News

A Jefferson City Public Schools central office administrator received a salary raise last year after the district's Board of Education approved a preliminary budget that called for a central office administrator pay freeze.

The board unanimously approved a preliminary budget in March 2017 for the current 2017-18 school year which included a pay freeze for 12 central office administrators. The same preliminary budget noted 40 building administrators and coordinators throughout the district could receive up to a $1,525 increase in pay.

The final budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which the board unanimously approved in June, included a $500 increase to each step of the district's salary schedule — which equated to an average 2.9 percent increase in pay for teachers. Central office administrators received only a flat $500 increase as opposed to a percentage.

There are no step raises for central office administrators, JCPS Superintendent Larry Linthacum said last week.

Board President Steve Bruce said two central office administrators received salary increases for 2017-18 because of promotions: Brian Shindorf to chief of learning and Denise Pierce to director of business services.

Shindorf's salary increased from $130,000 to $148,000 and Pierce's from $90,704 to $95,000, according to a community member's open records law request shared with the News Tribune.

Points of contention among the board are about whether the superintendent had the authority to grant a raise to the district's chief financial and operating officer, Jason Hoffman, without board approval and if the board was notified about the decision.

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Hoffman received a $5,000 salary raise in his contract for 2017-18, in addition to the flat $500 increase for all central office administrators.

Linthacum said Hoffman received a raise in order to retain him against competitive offers from other school districts.

Linthacum said the central office administrator pay freeze in the preliminary budget was "a general rule" and added it was abided by. Hoffman's raise was a situation that presented itself where the board did give one raise, he said.

Language in Hoffman's contract says the district's superintendent has discretion in his salary.

"The parties hereby agree that the District shall pay to Hoffman for the school year 2017-18 compensation in an amount not less than the amount paid for the 2016-17 school year and not more than the amount paid for the prior year with up to a Ten Thousand Dollar ($10,000) increase, with such amount to be determined by the Superintendent based upon performance," the contract — specifically, an addendum dated Oct. 10, 2016 — reads.

Hoffman's salary in 2016-17 was $166,000, and the $5,000 raise and the $500 flat increase budgeted for all central office administrators puts his salary for 2017-18 at $171,500.

Then-board President John Ruth signed off on the addendum.

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Board member Pam Murray said while she is aware of the contract's language, "those contracts spell out a maximum raise that someone is eligible for." Even though someone may be eligible for a raise per their contract, Murray added, that's not a guarantee they'll actually get one if the board has said there will be no raises.

Murray and fellow board member Michael Couty said they do not recall a board discussion ever happening about a recommendation from Linthacum to give Hoffman a raise.

Bruce said Hoffman's raise would have needed board approval if not for the language in the contract. To his recollection, Bruce said, everything was done by the book.

The discrepancy between board member recollections became public last Monday when Murray attempted to bring up the issue of a raise after the pay freeze in the open session of this month's board meeting when it came time to discuss the 2018-19 preliminary budget.

"Last year, we broke out central office administrators, and the vote, the preliminary budget that was passed, did not include a raise for central office administrators. How much was actually spent on central office administrator raises?" Murray asked Monday after an initial motion to approve next year's preliminary budget was put forward.

Bruce did not want specific personnel matters to be discussed in open session, though, he said after the meeting. He told Murray during the meeting the board could discuss the issue in closed session, which he and Couty confirmed happened.

A procedural action initiated by board member Lori Massman ended debate on next year's preliminary budget in open session, which forced a 5-2 vote on the preliminary budget. Murray and Couty voted against it.

Both Murray and Couty are seeking re-election to the board.