Many St. Paul Public Schools community members were shocked by the announcement of the $787,500 separation agreement between the St. Paul Public Schools Board and terminated Superintendent Valeria Silva. Board member Jean O’Connell abruptly resigned in protest over the decision.
However, in South Washington County School District ISD 833, the announcement was followed by a surprise decision by recently re-elected School Board Chairman Ron Kath to add an “Action Item” to the June 23, 2016 board meeting’s agenda: a vote that would result in a significant raise and increase in sick days for Superintendent Dr. Keith Jacobus.
Conversely, the ISD 833 teachers have been working without a contract for almost a year; an issue of which United Teachers for South Washington County Union President, Marty Fridgen, addressed during the February 18, 2016 school board meeting.
Former school board candidate and ISD 833 resident, Molly Lutz, wrote an email to the ISD 833 Board members questioning the timing of the Superintendent’s increase in pay when the teachers were still working without a contract. In her email (which was also submitted to the Woodbury Bulletin newspaper), Lutz requested that the board remove the action item from the night’s agenda, and questioned the amount of the increase, saying, “The Administrative Report states Superintendent Jacobus has had “positive” and “favorable” performance evaluations. During the 2nd and 3rd years of a 3 year contract, a salary increase of 3.5% for both years is substantial since his performance evaluations were not “superior” or “exemplary”. Lutz went on to say:
As School Board chair and an elected official, you are the voice of us as parents and taxpayers of the district. However, it seems that you are more interested in the administration of this district rather than our wonderful teachers. Our teachers have been working without contract since July 1, 2015- which is unacceptable especially as you are requesting a significant salary increase for Superintendent Jacobus instead of focusing on “retaining and hiring high quality teachers”…By intentionally waiting for school to end, teachers to be off and the public not paying attention, you, Board Chair Kath, decide this is the best time to throw your action item onto the agenda. This represents very poor judgment. With no budget cuts for the Fall of 2016, a budget that appears balanced (because you failed to settle the teachers contract on time), and the upcoming 2017 referendum renewal, it should be a given that the tax payers should no longer expect an operating levy increase in the Fall of 2017 since there’s plenty of money to continue to raise the Superintendent’s salary which currently is 23.4% above the state average.
At the Thursday (June 23, 2016) night board meeting, the board voted to approve a 7% raise over two years along with doubling sick days (45 to 90) for Superintendent Dr. Keith Jacobus, raising his current salary of $186,100 to $192,613 next year and $199,354 in 2017-18.