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School board reverses course

A decision to give raises to school administrators was rebuked by Clintonville resident Mike Krueger as he took board members to task for “deceiving the public”.

The board heard comments from Krueger during its meeting on Nov. 12.

Board members went into closed session at their meeting on Monday, Oct. 8, to discuss “Administrative/Supervisory Salaries for 2012-13 and personnel items.”

After returning to open session, the board voted 4-3 in favor of approving a 0 percent total package change in administrative salaries and benefits for the 2012-13 school year. Tim Schultz, Dirk Weber and Clyde Tellock voted no.

At their meeting on Monday, Oct. 22, the board again adjourned into closed session to discuss “personnel items and support staff negotiations.”

After returning to open session, the board voted to approve the following:

• A 56-cent per hour salary increase for support staff and the executive secretary for 2012-13. Jim Dins voted no;

• A 56-cent per hour salary increase for the food service director for 2012-13. Jim Dins and Tim Schultz voted no;

• A $750 salary increase for the middle school principal and Rec Center director, and a $1,500 salary increase for the superintendent, business manager, high school principal, high school associate principal, elementary principal, curriculum director, and building and grounds director. Jim Dins, Ben Huber, and Pat Schley voted nay.

Weber, who voted in favor of the wage increase for administration, said the board reversed its decision after members of the administration presented their case for a raise.

“I can’t speak for the whole board, but I know these were very difficult discussions and decisions in both meetings. The administrative team was there at the Oct. 22 meeting and stated their case for a raise. After that, the board changed its decision and went with a modest raise.

“My own feeling is that we have granted raises almost every year – I don’t know if there’s been a year we haven’t given raises,” continued Weber. “We’re doing this at the beginning of the school year, and that’s where it ended up, for no good reason. I feel like we kind of snuck up on the administration; they were expecting a raise. If we were going to freeze their salaries, we should have done it in April or May to be fair to them. I feel that these discussions should be in the spring.”

“With the high school having not passed the state’s minimum requirements, and WKCE scores in the lowest bracket according to an article in the April 19th issue of the County Post East newspaper, and that our athletics have been pitiful to say the least, why would you give the administration a raise?” asked Krueger. “With this in mind, when would you not give them a raise? The administration hangs their hats on the low test scores because of the poverty level in Clintonville, but they have no problem asking these same people for more money to pay for employee raises.”

Superintendent Tom O’Toole disagreed with Krueger’s assessments.

“We do not have a ‘failing’ high school,” said O’Toole. “We also do not have ‘failing’ WKCE scores.”

Krueger read additional comments to the board, pointing out that the Oct. 8 agenda stated 2012-13 Supervisory/Administration Salaries may go into closed session.

“The Oct. 8 minutes state that a zero percent raise decision was made. The Oct. 22 agenda stated 2013 Support Staff Wages will be discussed in closed session,” stated Krueger. “At this time the board allowed the administration personnel to stay in for closed session. This is when I knew something was up. There was nothing on the agenda that suggested this was going to happen.

“Then I found out that the Oct. 22 minutes – which I am not privy to ahead of time – states there was a raise for staff and administration,” said Krueger. “Your agendas are to clearly state what it is you are going into closed session for. Based on the very different language from one agenda to the next there is no way that the public would know that you were reconsidering the Oct. 8 decision on Oct. 22.”

Board Member Tom Neely said the second discussion on administrative salary raises fell under personnel issues. “Administrative/supervisory salaries” was listed as one of the board’s reasons for adjourning into closed session on Oct. 8, but was not listed as one of the board’s reasons for adjourning into closed session on Oct. 22.

“It may or may not be required to list the word ‘reconsideration’ on the agenda but clearly the agenda should state the same thing it did in the first agenda to alert the public that your zero percent raise discussion was being discussed for the second time,” Krueger stated. “Your two agendas in no way are the same or even similar.”

Krueger also cited Roberts Rules of Order and argued that the board did not follow them correctly, but board members responded by saying they are not bound by law to follow Roberts Rules of Order.

“The School Board members are the only ones automatically allowed in closed session. Anyone else must be listed by the School Board and approved for them to come into closed session,” continued Krueger. “This authority to come into closed session is not given to anyone other than the School Board . It is not an invitation by the Superintendent.”

Krueger then asked the board if he could stay for closed sessions, and board members said he couldn’t. He then asked why the administrators could remain in closed session without it being listed on the agenda. Board members responded that they had some private discussions about allowing administrators to stay in the closed session meeting prior to the board meeting.

“That is wrong and against the law, and the public should know what the board is doing,” Krueger said. “You are deceiving the public. You’re wrong and you know it.”

O’Toole was asked by Board Member Jim Dins if he felt they had done something wrong. “I think we’re doing it right,” responded O’Toole.

“Overall, my opinion is that we handled this poorly,” said Weber. “We could have done better on several levels.”

“This is the second time that I have spoken in front of the School Board about open records,” commented Krueger. “The last time, I was told I couldn’t get the board member packets to see what is all going to be talked about prior to board meetings, knowing I did not want to see anything personal. I was not given a satisfactory answer but I let it go.

“I think you should bring up the administrative/supervisory salaries for a re-vote,” stated Krueger.

The board could not legally take any action after hearing Krueger’s comments, though his suggestion of a re-vote could appear on a future agenda.

Concerned citizens can visit http://clintonville.k12.wi.us/district/board.html to review upcoming meeting agendas, past meeting minutes, and the district’s Annual Report booklet

The next school board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26, in the middle school IMC.

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