Board’s choice for superintendent won’t be able to serve in Mehlville


The Mehlville Board of Education’s unanimous choice for superintendent will not be able to serve in the position.

Mehlville school board members voted last week to offer a three-year contract to Terry Noble to serve as superintendent, effective July 1.

However, Noble, who currently serves as superintendent of the De Soto School District, told the Call Friday he cannot accept the position because his Board of Education will not release him from his contract, primarily because of the timing as the contract year for administrators begins July 1.

Noble said he is under contract with the De Soto board for two more years — the 2006-2007 school year and the 2007-2008 school year. School boards typically honor administrators’ requests to be released from their contracts, he said.

“But I think in order to be fair to the board here in De Soto, though, you have to take into consideration the time frame be-cause it’s so late, and that’s probably the primary reason,” Noble said. “And also this community and the board have tried hard, I would say, to try to establish a contract with me that would keep me here, which I really appreciate, and they feel like they’ve made an obligation to the community to make that happen.

“So the contract I’m working under was designed to do that. So I feel like the board here is simply keeping their word to the community,” he added.

For the coming school year, Noble said he will be paid $126,000, and for the 2007-2008 school year, his salary will be $146,000.

“The contract was designed to keep me here for three years and so it was back loaded,” he explained.

At a May 30 closed session, the Mehlville Board of Education voted to extend a three-year contract to Noble for the superintendent’s post, effective July 1 and continuing through June 30, 2009. For the first year of the contract, Noble’s salary would have been $160,000 plus benefits to be determined, according to the motion, which also states the contract offer expires at 5 p.m. Friday, June 9.

The Mehlville board is looking for a superintendent to replace Tim Ricker. The board voted Feb. 9 to accept Ricker’s resignation, effective June 30.

In a letter to the board, Ricker, 52, said he was resigning to take “full advantage” of the state’s retirement system for public school employees. He will finish his 30th year as an educator this year. Ricker has served as Mehlville superintendent since July 1, 2003. He was selected by the Board of Education on Jan. 6, 2003, to replace retiring Superintendent John Cary.

In a letter to the board, Ricker emphasized that his decision was not related to voters’ rejection of Proposition A, a 97-cent tax-rate increase, on Feb. 7.

On Feb. 15, the Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A Board of Education in Lemont, Ill., voted unanimously to hire Ricker as superintendent, effective July 1.

Ricker’s compensation package as Mehlville superintendent totaled $153,200 and has remained unchanged from the 2003-2004 school year. Ricker declined salary increases for the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 school years. Besides salary, Ricker’s compensation includes an additional 10 percent of his base salary for retirement and an in-district travel allowance of $600 per month — $7,200 annually.

Noble, 54, said he was very interested in serving as Mehlville superintendent.

“I think Mehlville really has an outstanding school district that’s got a lot of potential, and it would have been a great career opportunity for me. I was very excited about the possibility,” he said. “But I did go into that interview knowing that it was late (in the year), and I was concerned about that. I shared that with the Mehlville board that I wasn’t certain how the board in De Soto would deal with my contract and, as it turned out, it just was so late in the year …”

Mehlville Board of Education President Ken Leach said he was disappointed that Noble will not be able to accept the superintendent’s post.

“We knew that there was a possibility they wouldn’t let him out (of his contract), but we knew we had to take a shot at it, and really we were looking to even give him a shot to where we could maybe give him a contract that would kick in later,” Leach said, adding that he could empathize with the De Soto board in terms of trying to find either a new superintendent or an interim at such a late date.

“I guess it’s not too much of a surprise. They like him just as much as we did, and that’s why they didn’t want to lose him,” he said.

Leach noted the Mehlville board was not being “hypocritical” in offering a contract to Noble as it had released Ricker from his contract when it accepted his resignation in February, and most likely will release Chief Financial Officer Stephen Keyser from his two-year contract, which the board recently extended for another year. Keyser has been named deputy executive director of the Cooperating School Districts.

“So that will be another one that we’ll be probably letting go because of them having the opportunities that we don’t want to stand in their way on,” Leach said. “So I think we did the right thing, and what we asked of De Soto wasn’t out of line considering what we’ve done. But I can also understand that they don’t want to give up (Noble). They’ve got a good guy, and I don’t blame them. I really feel that it’s De Soto’s gain and our loss.”

The Mehlville school board voted in early March to hire the Missouri School Boards Association to conduct a search for a new superintendent. Regardless of the time frame, the cost of the search will be $14,500 plus expenses not to exceed an additional $1,500.

Right now, Leach said the Mehlville board most likely will hire an interim superintendent for the coming school year and reopen the search in the fall.

“… All in all, we do have a contingency plan and right now, it’s more than likely we’ll have to look for an interim and then come October, we can start the process again. It won’t cost us anymore. So the contingency looks like an interim to take us up to that point. Start it over again, and realistically we should get more applicants at that time because it fits in line with the right time of year.

“Whether there are any more Terry Nobles out there, I doubt it. He was such a good fit, but I’m sure there’s people that will be a good fit in different ways,” Leach said. “I wish the best for Terry Noble because he’s such a good guy and I think he’s the type of person you want involved in education and I’m sorry we’re not able to work with him.”