Thursday, December 16, 2004

St. Paul Schools run like a business

For those who think schools should be run like private business, the St. Paul school district is doing just that, according to this article from today's Star Tribune:
To show her how much they appreciate what she's done -- and to try to ensure that she sticks around a while longer to keep doing it -- members of the St. Paul school board voted unanimously Wednesday to renew the contract of Superintendent Patricia Harvey.

Her pay will increase to $169,637 in April 2005, up from the $165,500 she had been making for nearly five years. In addition, the district will pay her a $10,000 bonus, effective July 1, 2005, and a $15,000 bonus, effective July 1, 2006, if she remains at the helm. The contract will run through June 30, 2007.

Harvey also will receive $600 per month as an expense allowance and $1,000 per month for a car allowance, essentially putting her total annual compensation at $188,837.
The contract, which is intended to reward Harvey's longevity, appears to provide some substantial deferred compensation. For instance, the bonuses will be paid into the state's deferred-compensation plan. In addition, if the board were to let Harvey go without cause or for incapacity during the life of the contract, she would be entitled to half her annual salary, plus other deferred compensation.

Her contract grants her 32 vacation days a year, which she can stockpile if unused. However, the contract limits the amount of accrued vacation time to 75 days. She also receives 15 sick days a year, which can accrue without limit if not used. If she were to be let go, again without cause, she would be entitled to twice the amount of any unused sick time she had accumulated. The vacation and sick pay would be paid, over a period of up to five years following the time she leaves the district, into a tax-deferred compensation plan.

It appears that Harvey could leave the district with an amount well over her annual salary. But board members pointed to the bonuses as incentive for her to continue working here. And, Carter pointed out, by the end of this contract, Harvey will have led the St. Paul schools for nearly nine years.

If she leaves on her own, the severance will be less generous. She would be required to help the district develop a transition plan at her current salary for up to 90 days. After that, she would be paid as a consultant for up to another 60 days at a rate equal to her pay in order to help her successor get up to speed.

Meanwhile, down in the classrooms, from the St. Paul Pioneer Press...
The deal was negotiated as the 41,000-student district starts to work through a $24.3 million budget deficit, but board members said the new pay package recognizes the tight financial condition the schools are in.
A year ago, St. Paul teachers agreed to a two-year contract with a 2.5 percent salary increase in the first year and no increase in the second. The raise was balanced against the school district's increased contribution for teachers' health insurance premiums.

Harvey's 2.8 percent base salary increase seems reasonable, said Barb Wencl, president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers. "Some people will say the teachers took a zero increase this year," she said, but added she wasn't surprised by the package that Harvey received.

Stay tuned this spring, while scores of teachers get laid off to make up this $24 million.


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