Westonka School Board approves contracts

By Blaze Fugina Community Editor

The Westonka School Board made the decision during a July 9 meeting to approve the contracts of some district administrators.

At the regular July board meeting, many members of the board defended their decisions to approve the contracts for Administrative Assistant Susan Clark, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Mark Femrite, Program Coordinator Tiffany Grube, Sarah Heyer, the district’s principals and Superintendent Kevin Borg.

David Botts, the school board chair, first read a statement about the contracts that was prepared ahead of time.

"Over the years, like a business, you kind of look where you want to be in the salary range," he said. "We worked hard, even through tough financial times, with teachers unions and other bargaining group, we have consistently gotten our pay packages to where we are consistently near the middle, let’s say."

When speaking about the pay of nearby school districts, Botts said that they are right in the middle of nearby school districts, which generally vary based on geography.

"A lot of the times we’re higher than the people to the west of us and lower than the people to the east of us," he said.

Speaking about those in administrative positions, Botts said that the district runs with low administrative costs because individuals "wear many different hats" and are hard working.

"We want to make sure these individuals do not leave use simply because we’re not reasonably competitive on salary and benefits," he said. "These contracts take a necessary step toward being competitive while maintaining our fiscal health."

Botts later said that they spent a lot of time comparing the numbers of other area superintendents before deciding on the proposal for Borg’s contract.

"He’s been heavily recruited by other districts," said Botts. "I’ll take some heat for it but this was the right thing to do."

According to documents from the school board, the superintendent contract calls for a salary of $149,330 for the 2012-2013 school year, $162,770 for the 2013-2014 school year and $177,419 for the 2014-2015 school year.

The contract also includes an insurance provision, an increase of TSA to $5,000 and a mileage and car use allowance of $500 a month.

When the vote came up for Borg’s contract, many members of the school board spoke about their views on the contract.

Westonka School Board Member Keith Foerster said he felt there were many superintendent positions open in the state, and plenty of opportunities for Borg to leave if the contract was not competitive.

"This whole process was a difficult process, and it didn’t go unchallenged as we looked and reviewed our neighboring districts and our own district," he said. "We’ve done a lot of great things from the standpoint of really creating a firm foundation. I think it is incredibly important to maintain that."

Ann Bremer, the vice school board chair for the district, said she felt Borg took on the responsibility and earned "some of the strikes" as the leader of the Westonka Public School District.

"One of the first decisions I had to make when I came to the board almost eight years ago was to hire Kevin as our superintendent," she said. "I have watched him take on the awesome responsibility as a 30-year-old to a $25 million budget and a staff of almost 300 people. At that time we grossly underpaid him because he was untested and unproven."

The only school board member who did not approve of the contract was Margie Saatzer. She said she felt the increase in salary was too large of a portion of the district’s budget.

"I just can’t support this increase," she said. "I know Kevin is committed to our district, but I think it is just too big of a chunk of the pie, and I just cannot do it."

The resolution of the individual contracts of Clark, Femrite, Grube and Heyer, and the resolution of the principal’s contracts, were unanimously approved. The superintendent’s contract resolution was approved by a 6-1 vote.

According to Westonka School Board documents, the principal’s contracts, along with the contracts of Clark, Femrite, Grube and Heyer, all are for 2012 through 2014. Borg’s contract will run from 2012 through 2015.