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BOE defends Leiker's 9.3% raise

Staff writer

USD 408 board members took the opportunity Monday at their regular July meeting Monday to reinforce their decision to raise Superintendent Lee Leiker’s salary to $100,000.

“I feel bad because what should have been a pat on your back and thank you from this board, this district, and this community has been turned into something negative,” Board President Chris Sprowls told Leiker at the meeting. “I don’t think there’s anybody in this room that regrets what we did with your salary.”

One rationale given for the raise — raising Leiker’s salary to be comparable to salaries in other similar districts — did not require the $8,500 increase to Leiker’s $91,500 salary, according to samples of salary and benefit data analyzed by the Marion County Record.

Under the Kansas Open Records Act, the newspaper asked for and received a copy of data board members had used in their salary discussions.

The Record also obtained separate data from the Kansas Department of Education.

Board members focused their comments on extra duties Leiker has taken on in recent years. These duties, they said, weren’t reflected in his compensation package until the raise.

“He’s doing the bookwork; he’s doing all the stuff you don’t see that takes up the time,” Sprowls said about duties Leiker assumed regarding district transportation.

“Years ago we had a full-time business manager in this office,” Sprowls said. “We have a part-time business manager in this office, and he’s absorbed those duties. Food service, there used to be a specific director for that; they’ve absorbed a lot of that through this office, too. Now that isn’t all Lee, but it’s through this office and he oversees it.

“Every year our auditors tell us that there’s not a leaner-run district around, and that’s a credit to Lee and a credit to our staff that does it.”

Leiker echoed those comments in response to a question about superintendent salary and benefit information Sprowls had obtained from the Kansas Association of School Boards.

“Some of the things the data won’t obviously show,” he said. “I look at the support staff in our district. We don’t have as much support staff as many districts our size have because we’ve combined those duties and that won’t necessarily all show up in there.”

Board member Sarah Cope added: “Mopping the gym floor at 3:30 in the morning when it was raining won’t be in there.”

Cope asked Leiker how accurate he thought the KASB data was.

“It’s not all submitted the same way. I would not in any way say it is 100 percent accurate,” he replied.

Sprowls reaffirmed his support for Leiker and the salary increase.

“You couldn’t ask for a better person in that position, in my opinion,” Sprowls said. “I think he’s the best person for this district, and I think we need to compensate him fairly for what he does. It might have been a sizeable jump, but it was long overdue. We had a little extra this year, and we could do it.”

Last modified July 12, 2012

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