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School board gives Leiker $100,000

Superintendent gets 9.9% raise; principals each get $2,530 more

Staff writer

Marion-Florence USD 408 Board of Education gave a 9.9 percent raise to Superintendent Lee Leiker and smaller raises to three building principals during a special meeting June 27.

Leiker’s contract was increased from $91,000 to $100,000.

Principal salaries were uniformly raised by $2,530, taking Marion High School Principal Tod Gordon from $72,680 to $75,210, Marion Middle School Principal Missy Stubenhofer from $53,500 to $56,030, and Marion Elementary Principal Justin Wasmuth from $63,500 to $66,030.

The board actions followed a series of four executive sessions designated for discussing personnel matters of nonelected personnel.

Board President Chris Sprowls said administrative salaries had been frozen for four years as the district worked to raise below-average teacher salaries and combat state budget shortfalls. He said the raises were overdue.

“They’ve taken on so much more, and they haven’t been compensated for it,” Sprowls said. “We’ve tried as hard as we can to be fair to our teachers. We wanted to be fair to all our staff.”

Board Member Lyle Leppke said: “Our administrators are the ones who have given us the most with the least increase in pay.”

Sprowls said he was the one who initiated the process that resulted in the pay increases.

“Our administrative team didn’t come to us,” Sprowls said. “I came to them. I felt with as many years as I’ve been in charge at the board that should be my responsibility to be fair to them,

“At the end of the regular June meeting I said we’d review the administrative salaries at our next meeting. I said I didn’t feel I had enough information at that time to make an informed decision.”

Sprowls obtained a report from Kansas Association of School Boards with comparative data for school districts of similar size.

KASB research specialist Jim Hays said such reports includes more information than just salaries.

“Things like years of experience, background, building size, district size — these are all things correlated with pay,” Hays said.

The Marion County Record asked Hays for a copy of the report, which he said had been e-mailed to Sprowls. Hays said proper protocol would be to request the report from Sprowls. After initially agreeing Thursday to provide the report Record, Sprowls retracted the offer Friday. Sprowls said KASB officials contacted subsequent to the request advised against the release, saying the information was for the use of school boards in making personnel decisions.

Sprowls specifically addressed the increase for Leiker.

“He’s basically been frozen,” Sprowls said. “His job duties have tripled in the last five or six years, and in my opinion we haven’t been fair to him to compensate him for his extra duties. People don’t realize how much money he’s saved the district by what he’s taken on.”

Sprowls cited Leiker’s oversight of district transportation as an example of his increased responsibilities. Leiker took over the duties when a full-time transportation director position was eliminated due to budget shortfalls.

Leiker, who came to the district in 2004, received annual salary increases through 2008 that raised his compensation from $85,000 to $91,000. He received no additional increases until the special board meeting last week.

Leppke said Leiker’s financial management of the district was an important consideration in granting the raise.

“There were schools a couple of years ago that didn’t know how they were going to pay salaries, schools that had zero money to carry over for the next year,” Leppke said.

“Every dollar is important to Lee in this district,” Leppke said. “We’ve got a superintendent who put us in a position to transfer money from one year to the next in difficult years — how can he not be worth what he’s being paid?”

Sprowls and Leppke acknowledged granting the raises could be received negatively by some district patrons, but maintained the raises are deserved.

“If they saw what we saw, it’s very justified,” Sprowls said.

“They don’t get to see all the things we get to see as board members. That’s why we get to make that decision,” Leppke said.

“If somebody wants to walk a mile in his shoes, I’d encourage them to do it — they’d be hard-pressed to keep up,” Sprowls said. “That the whole administrative team, too.”

In other business conducted at the special meeting, the board approved a transfer of $242,174 from the general fund to special education. Leiker said the move allows the district to carry the funds forward to the next fiscal year, and will be used to pay the district’s annual assessment for services from Marion County Special Education Cooperative.

“We finished the year in good financial status,” Leiker said. “That’s a big expense, and if something comes up next year, we have that taken care of.”

The board accepted the resignation of part-time high school computer and business teacher Jennifer Janzen.

Paraeducator Denise Kline was appointed high school junior class sponsor.

The next regular meeting of the board is scheduled for Monday, July 9.

Last modified July 2, 2012

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