NEW: Mehlville superintendent declines contract with 24-percent pay hike

Mehlville Superintendent Terry Noble said Thursday he will decline the contract offered him earlier this year by the Board of Education.

Noble recommended the board give him a 3-percent pay increase, which is what other senior administrative staff received for the 2010-2011 school year. The superintendent announced his decision in a statement at the July 29 regular board meeting.

The board in March voted unanimously to offer Noble a three-year extension of his contract. The new agreement, effective July 1 to June 30, 2013, increased Noble’s base salary to $226,000 from $181,912 — a roughly 24-percent raise.

But Noble said talk of that pay increase in the community “is getting in the way of an honest and frank discussion” about the district’s long-range improvement plan, COMPASS II — Charting the Oakville-Mehlville Path to Advance Successful Schools.

COMPASS II contains $107 million worth of recommendations to make Mehlville a high-performing school district, and the school board could seek up to a 94-cent tax-rate increase this November to fund the entire plan.

“Over the past couple of months, it has become increasingly clear to me that the discussion regarding my salary is getting in the way of an honest and frank discussion regarding COMPASS recommendations,” Noble said. “On a personal level, that is simply unacceptable to me. For more than 36 years I’ve made kids first and kids must come first now.

“Few things have meant more to me professionally than the Board of Education’s efforts to postpone my retirement and keep me as superintendent of this district. I could never adequately express how much that vote of confidence meant to me. But it is deeply and personally troubling to have this issue now take precedence, in community discussions, over the compelling and critical needs of our district.

“I know the Board may not be happy with this decision,” the superintendent said. “But I know I cannot and will not be an issue when we must have a serious discussion about the future of our district and the future of our kids.”

Board President Tom Diehl said Noble’s contract will be changed to a one-year agreement, and his benefits package will be the same as it was in his previous, three-year pact with the district.

Look for full coverage in next week’s Call.