Questions raised over superintendent, custodian compensation


The contract for Sibley East Superintendent Stephen Jones was removed from the school board’s consent agenda Monday night and postponed until August 2.

School board members amended a motion to remove Jones’ proposed contract and the hiring of Bob Pichelmann as head custodian from the consent agenda. There was a question was about the compensation for both positions.

School board member Brian Asmus felt that because of the uncertainty in state funding and the anticipated over spending in the school district’s budget, that the district needs to keep compensation at the same level.

Jones stated that there would be no increase in wages for the new head custodian. Jones said that the position increases Pichelmann’s responsibilities and reduces overtime pay.

For the 2009-2010 school year, Jones was paid an annual salary of $115,000. Since the school district did not provide health insurance for the superintendent the first year, he was given an additional $10,000 in salary.

For the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years, it was proposed that the superintendent’s salary remain at $115,000, and that he would receive health insurance.

School district attorney Tony Nerud said that Sibley East saved approximately $4,500 this past year with Jones not participating in the health insurance benefit. For the next two years, he chose to participate in the district health insurance plan.

Nerud also said that it is proposed that Jones receive the same salary in the second and third year of the contract. “The dollars are not out of line, if not falling behind,” Nerud said. Nerud estimated that the insurance package is approximately $16,000 now.

Asmus explained that in compensation, he meant salary and benefits, not just salary.

Nerud commented that there would be savings with Jones taking the health insurance instead of the additional $10,000 with social security and medicare.

After the discussion, Jones made a request to withdraw his contract.

Nerud said he was not sure whether or not one of the parties in the contract could withdraw from negotiations. He stated that the school board would have to decide whether or not to table the contract.

The school board unanimously postponed discussion on the superintendent’s contract until next month.

Pichelmann was hired as head custodian. Under the contract he will have a 45-hour work week. The position will include an additional $2 per hour stipend because of increased supervisory responsibilities. There is a work agreement in place for the position until June 30, when it will be added to the non-certified contract.

Other personnel actions at the school board meeting were:

• Hired Andrew Kahler as the high school science teacher, and Laura Zender as the high school counselor

• Accepted the resignation of Courtney Bergstrom as high school science teacher

• Approved a one-year leave-of-absence for Ruth Thom

• Accepted a $1,000 grant from Second Harvest Heartland for the summer food service program

• Accepted a letter of recognition from the Minnesota Council of Teacher of Mathematics for Alan Ihrke.