Board votes unanimously to extend Knost’s contract

President says he’s pleased with unanimous vote on pact

Eric Knost

Eric Knost

By Gloria Lloyd

Mehlville School District Superintendent Eric Knost has accepted the Mehlville Board of Education’s offer to stay on for another three years.

At its June 20 meeting, the board unanimously agreed to extend Knost’s contract for the next three years, starting at a salary of $190,592 for the upcoming school year.

Knost, who took the reins of the district in 2011, said he enjoys the job and the district and hopes to never leave.

“It was 7-0, and I’m very, very thankful for the board, and I appreciate their support,” he told the Call. “For me, it’s just three years more towards me riding it out here. I’d prefer to retire from this position.”

The new contract took effect July 1, replacing the final year of Knost’s previous three-year contract.

Although board members initially offered Knost a 2.5-percent salary increase, he requested they lower the amount to 1.5 percent instead — in line with the raise the board approved for other district administrators for the coming school year.

Knost’s previous salary was $187,775, and he now will be paid $190,592.

The board’s unanimous agreement on keeping Knost shows its happiness with Knost’s performance in the top job, as well as the importance of what he has accomplished in the past two years in the district, board President Mark Stoner told the Call.

“Clearly I was happy to see a unanimous vote, because as a board I think it’s important that we back our superintendent,” he said. “He’s done a terrific job, and we’re continuing to move the district forward.”

Knost said the key aspect of the negotiations, from his perspective, was gaining that unanimous vote of confidence from the board, that it appreciates what he has accomplished in the past two years in the district and shares his vision and goals.

The board revised some of the language that has been standard in the Mehlville superintendent’s contract in the past, Stoner noted.

“It wasn’t a very sound contract in the past, in my opinion,” he said.

For example, in a nod to a previous board extending a contract that granted a $44,000 raise to former Superintendent Terry Noble, the new contract stipulates that the school board cannot raise Knost’s salary in the second and third years of the contract more than 3 percent from his previous year’s salary.

Any potential 3-percent annual raise is predicated, according to the approved contract, on Knost’s annual performance, judged through a performance evaluation and the district’s finances.

The performance clause aligns Knost’s pay with some board members’ preference for implementing merit pay into teachers’ salaries, a subject a board committee currently is studying.

“Holding people accountable is a very important thing, and holding your CEO of the district accountable is even more important,” Stoner said. “We’ve set him as the standard for merit pay, and hopefully the rest of the district will then follow in place.”

Unlike past superintendents, the new contract does not give the superintendent a monthly vehicle allowance.

Before Knost took the position in 2011, the monthly vehicle allowance provided to past superintendents was as much as $600 a month.

Under the terms of the contract, Knost gets three weeks of vacation, plus winter break and spring break during the school year. The contract states he will receive the same benefits as any employee of the district, including health, dental and vision insurance.

When Noble was superintendent, the board added $5,248 to his base salary to fund health insurance benefits for his wife.

Before being named superintendent, Knost had served as deputy superintendent since November 2006, when he was promoted from the position of north area superintendent.

Before he was named north area superintendent, Knost had served as principal of Oakville High School since July 1, 2002.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect Knost’s correct salary for the 2013-2014 school year.