Top administrators decline salary hike
Mehlville Superintendent Tim Ricker and six other Central Office administrators have informed the Board of Education that they voluntarily will decline any pay increases for the coming school year — a virtually unprecedented action.
Instead, the administrators have requested that those funds be used for the remainder of the employees in the school district.
The Board of Education unanimously renewed the contracts of the superintendent, deputy superintendent, south area superintendent and four assistant superintendents during a closed session last week.
However, Superintendent Tim Ricker and the Central Office administrators submitted two separate letters to the board to be considered during a March 30 closed meeting, requesting that they receive no salary increases for the 2004-2005 school year and further asking that "those extra dollars ... be used for those in the classroom and those who support the work in the buildings," according to Ricker's letter.
"My feeling was personally that that should go back to the employee groups in a year that we might not be able to give a very substantial increase," Ricker told the Call. "It's just more money that can go toward benefits or salaries of any employee group."
Without knowing how much Central Office administrative salaries could have been negotiated and increased this year, Randy Charles, assistant superintendent of finance and chief financial officer, told the Call it would be difficult to quantify how much the administrators' decision would save the district.
However, based on a 2.5 percent increase, not increasing Central Office administrators' salaries during the 2004-2005 school year could allow roughly $15,000 to flow back into the salaries of other employee groups, according to Charles' calculations.
Ricker contends those figures never were considered when he and the six other administrators began to explore the idea — it just seemed like the right thing to do.
Administrators have been considering declining pay increases since January, Ricker told the Call — around the same time his superintendent's evaluation by the board began and the administration had set a goal to cut this year's budget by $1.6 million.
"I told them what I was going to do ... and then I said you all need to think about this and figure out what would you all like to do and there was no obligation on any employee group from me ...,'' he said. "And then we had a couple conversations as we got better numbers on what we had to do for the following year and what we had to do for non-renewals ... And so the team said they would be more than happy to do the same with no obligation to no other employee group."
The Central Office administrators' decision to decline pay increases also was announced to building principals last week.
"They're talking about it ... But they're a larger group of people obviously," Ricker said — meaning the principals also are considering declining pay increases.
Asked if the Central office Administrators' pay decision was made to create a trickle-down effect on other employee groups, Ricker answered, "It wasn't done for that. It was not done for that reason whatsoever. It was done as a — for me it was done as just doing my part. And for them, it was the same reason — doing their part.
"And we do make more money than everyone else in the district and there's an obligation that goes with that. We worked hard to get here. Every one of us has done the things that need to be done to get into positions like this and with that being said, there's a commensurate salary and benefit package that goes with that and I don't apologize for that,'' he said. "And I don't expect them to apologize for that. We don't work for free ... In saying that, there is a large responsibility with the fact that you are the highest paid person in the district."
Charles and Ricker both believed, based on their conversations with other employees who have worked at the district for more than 30 years, that while there have been instances in which certain individuals have declined pay increases, there has been no other instance in which all Central Office administrators simultaneously have declined pay increases.
Ricker said he did not know if he or other Central Office staff administrators would volunteer to decline pay increases again during the 2005-2006 school year since he does not know the budget outlook for that year.
The superintendent, deputy superintendent, area superintendent and four assistant superintendents collectively are scheduled to receive total compensation of $822,175.74 for the 2003-2004 school year, according to administrative pay increases unanimously approved by board members May 27. That figure does not include a midyear increase later approved for one assistant superintendent. The 2003-2004 salaries were up roughly 4.4 percent from the 2002-2003's total compensation of $786,797.
Because Central Office administrators essentially have frozen their salaries, their compensation should remain at the 2003-2004 levels for another academic year.
With the board's action last May, Ricker, who became superintendent July 1, received a compensation package totaling $153,200 for the 2003-2004 school year. Besides salary, Ricker's compensation also includes an additional 10 percent of his base salary for retirement and an in-district travel allowance of $600 per month — $7,200 annually.
But when the Board of Education announced in January 2003 it had reached an agreement with Ricker to replace retiring Superintendent John Cary, Ricker's total compensation package was valued at $150,200, which included a base salary of $130,000, an additional 10 percent of his base salary for retirement and an in-district travel allowance of $600 per month.
For the 2002-2003 school year, Cary was paid $133,000 — a 3.91 percent increase from his 2001-2002 salary of $128,000. Cary also received an additional $13,300 — 10 percent of the annual salary amount — as compensation for retirement, and $500 per month for in-district travel, bringing his total compensation package to $152,300.
Ricker previously served as the district's south area superintendent, beginning in 2001. For the 2002-2003 school year, he was paid $108,885 — a 3.7 percent increase from his 2001-2002 salary of $105,000. He replaced Brent Underwood, who began serving as superintendent of the Webster Groves School District during the 2001-2002 school year. For the 1999-2000 school year, Underwood was paid $98,171. The previous year he was paid $90,600.
Jane Reed, who became the district's deputy superintendent July 1, is scheduled to receive a compensation package totaling $130,575 for the 2003-2004 school year. Besides salary, Reed's compensation for the newly created position of deputy superintendent last year included an additional 10 percent of her base salary for retirement and an in-district travel allowance of $400 per month — $4,800.
Reed served as the district's north area superintendent, beginning in 2000 and has continued that role in addition to her deputy superintendent responsibilities. For the 2002-2003 school year, Reed was paid $109,922 — a 3.7 percent increase from her 2001-2002 salary of $106,000. For the 2000-2001 school year, she was paid $102,000. Reed replaced Kathleen Keusenkothen, who became the superintendent of the city of St. Charles School District. As area superintendent, Keusenkothen was paid $99,075.53. The previous year Keusenkothen was paid $91,772.
Salaries for other Central Office administrators for the 2003-2004 school year are:
• McClain, who is scheduled to be paid $112,183.49, up 4 percent from his 2002-2003 salary of $107,848. The previous year he was paid $104,000. For the 2000-2001 school year, McClain was paid $94,585.20. He began his duties in Mehlville during the 1999-2000 school year with a salary of $92,000.
• Connie Hurst, assistant superintendent for curriculum, who is scheduled to be paid $112,183.49, up 4 percent from her 2002-2003 salary of $107,848. The previous year she was paid $104,000. During the 2000-2001 school year, Hurst's salary was $92,000. Before that, during the 1999-2000 school year, George Ann Fisher held the position before retiring with a salary of $98,171.
• Randy Charles, assistant superintendent for finance and chief financial officer, is being paid $111,104.80, up 4 percent from his 2002-2003 salary of $106,811. The previous year he was paid $103,000. Charles had served as Mehlville Senior High School principal with a salary of $99,410 and replaced Tom Foraker, who retired after the 2000-2001 school year with a salary of $92,282.
• Keith Klusmeyer, south area superintendent, is being paid $106,000. Klusmeyer, who previously served as principal at Remington Traditional School in the Pattonville School District, filled the position vacated by Ricker.
• Cindy Lynch, assistant superintendent for student services, is scheduled to be paid $100,806.11 for the 2003-2004 school year as the board approved a salary increase in December. Her $100,806.11 salary is up 3.5 percent from her previously approved 2003-2004 salary of $96,928.96. Lynch recently received an educational specialist degree, which accounted for the second raise midyear, according to Patrick Wallace, school/community relations director.
Lynch's board-approved increase from last May was up 4 percent from her 2002-2003 salary of $93,183. The previous year she was paid $89,000. Lynch earned $83,455 during the 2000-2001 school year. She formerly served as executive director of pupil personnel services and earned $80,000 for the 1999-2000 school year.