September 12, 2012 - Two Mehlville Board of Education members and one administrator were chosen by the board to sit on the school district's study committee for merit-based pay.
Board member Mark Stoner and board Vice President Elaine Powers were unanimously selected, along with Assistant Superintendent Lisa Counts, who was named co-facilitator.
Board member Rich Franz and board Secretary Larry Felton both expressed interest in being on the committee, but after voting 7-0 to nominate Powers and Stoner, Franz and Felton each received three votes at the board's annual retreat Saturday.
Powers, Felton and Kathleen Eardley voted in favor of Felton's appointment to the committee. Board President Venki Palamand, Stoner and Franz voted in favor of Franz's appointment to the committee.
Palamand initially made a motion for Powers, Stoner and Franz to serve on the committee with the rationale that Stoner and Powers were involved with the meet-and-confer committee. He also noted the March 2014 deadline for the committee's final report, per the district's memorandum of understanding, or MOU, with the Mehlville National Education Association.
"That way there's five of us who are assured of still being here in March of 2014," Palamand said. "Myself and Larry may be the most experienced in terms of service on the board, but in order to maintain the continuity I think it was just best to have the people that I appointed."
Additionally, with Stoner and Franz "being such strong advocates for merit pay," sitting on the committee would give them a "direct voice" in helping shape the outcome, according to Palamand.
However, Powers told the board the strongest team at the time should be chosen.
"I'm not at this point saying what I think that strongest team is," Powers said, "but just the general philosophy, you pick the strongest team that you have around the table right when you have that team instead of saying a year from now the players may be different ..."
Felton told the board he believes the stronger team would be Stoner, Powers and himself.
"The concern I have is that if we (choose Powers, Stoner and Franz) we have three really first-year people on the board," he said, "and we don't have the benefit of background and experience in having done multiple years of negotiations with the teachers."
After the board approved Stoner and Powers for the committee, Felton told the Call the board felt two "could carry" the responsibility of working with the committee.
"I think they felt like both of us (Franz and myself) were qualified, and it was easier to work with two than three," he said.
During discussions, Felton told the board he suggested having three people representing the board — the MOU states a "minimum of two" board members — because of negotiating at the elementary, middle and high school levels. If the committee would break into groups at each education level, Felton said having three representatives would allow for board representation at each level.
Franz also told the Call after the vote he was happy with the outcome.
"I think Mark Stoner and Elaine are going to do a wonderful job for the committee and help us accomplish our goal, which is to align the process of awarding pay with the private sector," he said.
Superintendent Eric Knost said he would recommend, from a managerial perspective, Counts as co-facilitator, in part, because of her experience as a co-facilitator for the meet-and-confer process. Fedorchak made the motion to nominate Counts.
"She's HR-experienced so she should be able to help develop this. But she's there at the school district every day so there's a point of contact," Fedorchak said. "That's why I would say we need somebody in administration to be the co-facilitator ..."
The board was required to select representation for the merit-pay committee due to specifications in the district's MOU.
The following appointments also were made at the retreat:
• Fedorchak to the committee to review the district leave policy.
• Eardley to the committee to attract new teachers.