• Last modified 537 days ago (Sept. 27, 2017)


All school employees to receive raises

Motion made after potentially illegal executive session

Staff writer

Marion-Florence school staff will receive raises after the district received a windfall of money, but the motion was made after a questionable closed session during a special meeting of the board of education.

Tuesday’s special meeting took place with only one day of notice. Two board members, Jeremiah Lange and Tim Young, were absent from the meeting.

Four administrators, four salaried classified staff, and 41 certified staff received $500 per year raises, and another 26 hourly classified staff received $0.10 per hour raises.

Superintendent Aaron Homburg said the raises for all district employees will cost about $75,000. The money is just over a quarter of an additional $280,000 the district received when the state moved from a block grant back to a finance formula.

“We had more money, and we want to treat our good employees as well as we can,” Homburg said.

He said another $17,000 went to removal of bats from the Hill Building and cleanup of guano, which is complete.

“All remnants are gone,” Homburg said.

He also said the district is considering reinstating some positions that were eliminated when budgets were tighter.

The raises came when the board resumed its open meeting after a 5-minute closed session.

The executive session motion included only two of three statements required by the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

Board president Nick Kraus made the motion.

“I move we go into executive session to discuss non-elected personnel pursuant to the non-elected personnel exemption under KOMA,” he said, before specifying when the open meeting would resume.

The motion included the time when the meeting would resume as well as the justification, but not the subject to be discussed.

Across-the-board raises, which is what the board presumably talked about in its closed session, are not protected by the personnel exemption, which is intended for discussions of individuals, not classes of employees.

“The personnel exception in K.S.A. 75-4319(b) is intended to protect the privacy of individuals,” states the attorney general website under its KOMA section. “Thus, if no individuals are being discussed, that exception to openness does not apply.”

The board immediately started passing motions raising pay of classifications of employees after reconvening the open meeting. The board did not have employee pay raises as a separate agenda item, and there was no discussion during the motions.

A second executive session for negotiations was on the agenda but did not take place.

The board previously voted to reopen contract negotiations after meeting in closed session for five minutes at the Sept. 11 meeting.

Last modified Sept. 27, 2017