Mehlville school board approves 10% pay hike for McClain, cuts 20 teaching positions

By MIKE ANTHONY

The Mehlville Board of Education voted in closed session last week to name Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources A.D. McClain associate superintendent and approve a 10-percent salary hike for him.

Board members voted 5-2 March 23 to extend McClain’s two-year contract an additional year, name him associate superintendent and increase his salary to $126,360 from $114,877.85. He began his duties in Mehlville during the 1999-2000 school year with a salary of $92,000.

Voting to extend McClain’s contract were President Rita Diekemper, Vice President Bill Schornheuser, Secretary Mike Heins, Cindy Christopher and Tom Correnti. Ken Leach and Karl Frank Jr. were opposed.

In separate motions during the closed session, the board voted 6-1 to extend by one year the two-year contracts of Central Office administrators.

During an open session earlier that night, the board voted to eliminate 20 teaching positions — 10 middle school posts and 10 elementary school posts — for a total savings of $900,000. Heins’ motion to eliminate the teaching posts was seconded by Christopher and approved with a 4-3 vote. Diekemper, Leach and Frank were opposed.

Board members also voted to trim four elementary physical education/music positions for a savings of $180,000. Christopher’s motion to cut the four positions was seconded by Heins and approved with a 4-3 vote. Diekemper, Leach and Frank were opposed.

The board earlier this month had accepted the administration’s recommendation to charge fees for participation in sports and clubs for an estimated savings of $325,000.

The board voted 6-1 last week to accept a revised plan for charging such fees, reducing the amount of the anticipated savings to $279,550. Frank was opposed.

Under the new plan, students will pay 50 percent of the district’s actual cost up to $150 with individual student fees capped at $200 per year. Families with two or more students participating in such activities will pay no more than $300 per year.

On March 10, the Board of Education voted 5-2 to approve a motion by Heins and seconded by Christopher to cut $2.463 million from the 2006-2007 budget, including charging $375 per student for bus transportation for those who live within 3.5 miles of their school. Besides Heins and Christopher, voting to approve the motion were Diekemper, Schornheuser and Correnti. Opposed were Frank and Leach.

A substitute motion proposed by Frank as an alternative to charging for bus transportation died for lack of a second.

District voters last month overwhelmingly rejected Proposition A, a 97-cent tax-rate increase, and the school board has started to act on recommendations made by task force study groups appointed by Superintendent Tim Ricker to help build the 2006-2007 budget in the event Proposition A did not pass. The task force study groups had recommended such things as charging $375 for bus service, charging a fee for playing a high school sport, charging activity fees for elementary and middle school clubs and eliminating team teaching at the middle schools.

Besides establishing the fee for bus transportation as recommended by the administration, the board on March 10 acted on several other recommendations by the administration, including eliminating 10 high school teaching positions, reducing 19 custodial positions and cutting 7.3 administrative positions. The reduction in administrative posts includes a custodial supervisor post and the district registrar.

The Board of Education is considering a target of $4 million in budget reductions for the 2006-2007 school year.

The cuts approved March 10 totaled $2.463 million.

With the action taken last week, including the revised savings for student activity fees, $3,497,550 in cuts have been made from the 2006-2007 budget.

In action taken during the March 23 closed session, board members:

• Voted not to renew the contracts of nearly 50 probationary teachers for the 2006-2007 school year. Correnti’s motion to not renew the contracts was seconded by Heins and approved with a unanimous vote. District officials are optimistic that most of the probationary teachers will be rehired at a later date due to retirements and attrition.

• Voted to extend Assistant Superintendent Connie Hurst-Bayless’ two-year contract for an additional year. The contract extension did not include a salary increase at this time. Correnti’s motion to extend Hurst-Bayless’ contract was seconded by Christopher and approved with a 6-1 vote. Frank was opposed.

• Voted to extend North Area Superintendent Eric Knost’s two-year contract for an additional year. The contract extension did not include a salary increase at this time. Christopher’s motion to extend Knost’s contract was seconded by Correnti and approved with a 6-1 vote. Frank was opposed.

• Voted to extend Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Cindy Lynch’s two-year contract for an additional year. The contract extension did not include a salary increase at this time. Correnti’s motion to extend Lynch’s contract was seconded by Heins and approved with a 6-1 vote. Frank was opposed.

• Voted to extend Chief Financial Officer Steve Keyser’s two-year contract for an additional year. The contract extension did not include a salary increase at this time. Christopher’s motion to extend Keyser’s contract was seconded by Correnti and approved with a 6-1 vote. Frank was opposed.

• Voted to employ 16 principals, 12 assistant principals and three directors with two-year contracts for the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 school years. Heins’ motion to employ the principals, assistant principals and directors was seconded by Correnti and approved with a 6-1 vote. Frank was opposed. No salary increases were approved with the motion.

• Voted to employ six classified directors and two classified assistant directors with two-year contracts for the 2006-2007 school year and the 2007-2008 school year. Heins’ motion to employ the classified directors and classified assistant directors was seconded by Correnti and ap-proved with a 6-0 vote. Frank was not pre-sent for the vote. No salary increases were approved with the motion.

The classified directors and classified assistant directors are: Assistant Director of Facilities Rob Ackermann, Director of Accounting Brent Bell, Director of Transportation Keith Henry, Director of Information Technology Services Steven Lee, Director of Facilities Rick Platz, Director of School Food/Nutrition Services Jordan Krugman, Director of School/Com-munity Relations Patrick Wallace and Assistant Director of Transportation Diane Wedel.