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R-P renews superintendent’s contract

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Nov 1st, 2013
Posted in Rushford Village Education

After a recent snafu involving a well-meaning board chairwoman Angela Colbenson who followed school legal counsel advice, the district has officially approved Superintendent Ehler’s contract for another two years. Ehler’s past contract expired June 30 while the district waited to settle teacher contracts. Per legal advice, and to satisfy a Minnesota legal statute, Colbenson authorized Ehler to continue working past the expiration date under his current contract terms. This stirred up disapproval from board member Taylor Peterson, who noted decisions made regarding a superintendent’s contract must be made by the board as a whole. Peterson also voiced several concerns over the terms of the contract.

During a closed session meeting on October 21, the board discussed the contract once again. A two-year contract was approved, with an optional extension for the third year being offered if both parties mutually agree. Salary was increased 1.11 percent for 2013-2014 and 3.06 percent for 2014-2015, $103,682 and $107,182 respectively. Should the option for a third year be approved, salary would increase 2.59 percent. This contract is begun retroactively July 1, 2013 and will end June 30, 2015. Notice of renewal or nonrenewal will be agreed upon by December 15, 2014.

The package increases include salary, health, life, dental and LTD insurances, 403b contribution, teacher retirement and payroll taxes, as well as providing a $5,000 annual contribution to a Health Care Savings Account. According to a district press release, “The salary benefits package was determined using data from 12 area school districts to assist with the salary negotiation process. The average area superintendent salary is $111,151.00. An examination of duty days, insurance costs, severance payments and leave arrangement was performed to determine comparability with area schools.”

Peterson noted displeasure at the July meeting in regards to some of these benefits, particularly insurance coverage and time off. According to the contract, the district will provide the superintendent family coverage health, dental and vision coverage, under the district group plan at the expense of the district. In addition, the district will provide a group term life plan providing $100,000 of coverage, long-term disability, and liability insurance.

The new contract allows 20 working days of annual paid vacation each contract year, with unused vacation taken within six months after the end of the contract year in which it is earned. Upon termination of employment, the superintendent is entitled to payment for any unused vacation days accrued. Paid sick leave is earned at the rate of one day(s) for each working month, and may be accumulated to a maximum of 140 days. Upon termination, the superintendent is entitled to payment for any unused sick days accrued and earned at a rate of $100 per day. Other allowances for time may include paid emergency leave, bereavement leave of up to three days, not subject to sick or personal time, for each instance within immediate or close family.

In other news, the school board has also approved a resolution of support for the 2014 Capital Budget Process, Local Request for State Funds, in a 6 to 1 vote with Taylor Peterson opposed. “We are continuing to pursue additional funding,” noted Superintendent Ehler. “If we’re going to pursue state funds, we must submit an application so it’s on record and we must have a resolution on file.” The Senate Bonding Committee will be at the district the first part of December.

Ehler and board members Angela Colbenson and Greg Smith met again with Representative Greg Davids back on October 2. According to Ehler, they used the opportunity to visit with Davids about efforts to pursue funding for both Rushford-Peterson and the Moose Lake School initiative. The district has been partnering with Moose Lake in an fund-seeking efforts. “It was a positive meeting and we appreciated Representative David’s time and interest,” noted Ehler.

Special Congratulations to:

R-P Knowledge Bowl Teams. Team 1 placed first in the competition with the other teams placing in the next three spots, respectively. “We took back the first four places and we brought four teams,” noted Principal Timm enthusiastically.

R-P FFA, which brought back first and second place honors, out of 48 teams, in the Livestock Judging Contest. Also, to the Livestock Judging team which competed at U of M judging contest October 8. That team placed first of 86 teams. More than 300 students competed and R-P had three place in the top 10.

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