Ashland School District No. 5, Jackson County, Oregon - The Board of Directors met in special session on November 29, 2005, at 11:15 a.m. in the District Board Room. Present were:
Heidi Parker ) Chair
Ruth Alexander ) Board Members
Amy Amrhein )
Mat Marr )
Amy Patton )
Juli Di Chiro, Superintendent
Jeanne Peterson, Executive Secretary
I. Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 11:20 a.m. by Chair Parker.
II. Roll Check
A roll of the board was taken and all members were present.
III. Discuss Superintendent Contract Negotiation Process
Chair Parker explained that this was a meeting of the school board, and the public would be able to watch but not participate. When the superintendent’s contract is brought to the Board for ratification, public comment will be welcomed.
Chair Parker explained the purpose of this meeting. The Board was notified that Superintendent Di Chiro retained an attorney to represent her in contract negotiations. The Board will decide whether or not an attorney will be retained to represent the Board in the superintendent contract negotiations. The Board will also review the parameters for contract negotiation and the cost of legal representation.
Due to the volume and intensity of public interest and input into this process, Director Patton addressed some rumors. One rumor is that last year’s Board extended the superintendent’s contract for one year, and the current Board wants to do the same. Director Patton responded that the current Board has not made any decision about the length of the superintendent’s contract. Last year’s Board did not extend the superintendent’s contract by one year. Superintendent Di Chiro’s original contract began in July of 2000, for three years, and was renewed in July of 2003, for three years, with no changes. Superintendent Di Chiro asked the Board to do a new contract by January, and the Board has accepted her request. Director Patton addressed the second rumor that the Board is being asked solely to renew the superintendent’s existing contract. Director Patton responded that the superintendent has requested additional significant benefits in addition to her contract renewal. The Board’s interest is to address the superintendent’s contract very carefully. The Board appreciates input that has been received from the community.
Director Marr expressed appreciation for the fact that teachers extended their bargained agreement for one year to allow the Board to gain experience this year. He feels a one-year renewal of the superintendent’s contract is a good idea; it is not a vote of no confidence. The budget situation is not clear now, and the prudent choice is to be fiscally conservative. Director Marr was impressed with the collaborative negotiating process developed by Directors Amrhein and Patton, and would return to that process at any time. Director Amrhein clarified that the reason the employees extended their bargained agreements for one year was because of the legislature possibly having a negative impact on employee insurance.
Chair Parker discussed attorneys. The Oregon School Boards Association has offered the district a special rate of $120 per hour for legal representation by Dori Brattain, and the Board may want to consider a cap for services. Ms. Brattain recommended one board member liaison to allow her to more efficiently complete work over the telephone. More than one board liaison would subject the process to the public meeting laws. The Hungerford Law Firm in Portland quoted a rate of $175 per hour.
Director Amrhein preferred two board member liaisons because she felt better resolutions can be obtained. However, considering the Board parameters, there is an interest to negotiate in private. When a draft agreement is presented to the Board, a public session will be held to discuss the draft. Director Amrhein recommended selecting Dori Brattain as the Board attorney and putting a cap on expenses, and selecting one board member to serve as liaison.
Director Alexander stated that the Board does not want an adversarial relationship with the superintendent. Legal representation would be a good service to the district. Director Alexander further recommended that Director Patton serve as the board liaison for superintendent contract negotiations.
The Board discussed a cap for expenses. Dori Brattain had recommended that the Board place a $2,000 to $3,000 cap on expenses, and obtain approval from the Board before exceeding that amount.
Director Alexander asked if the superintendent’s contract could be resolved prior to the January Board meeting. Superintendent Di Chiro clarified that the Board had until the end of January to complete its work.
Director Amrhein moved that the Board hire Dori Brattain as an attorney to negotiate the superintendent’s contract, put a cap on expenses in the amount of $2,000, and appoint Director Patton as the liaison to our attorney throughout the process. Director Alexander seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
The Board reviewed the superintendent contract negotiation parameters that had been previously established by the Board. Chair Parker explained that the parameters are a reflection of what the Board feels are in the best interest of the district. The topics covered include: Term, Salary, Duties, Professional Growth, Superintendent’s License, Evaluation, Work Year/Vacation, Fringe Benefits, Retirement, Expenses, and Termination.
Discussion was held on Evaluation and clarification of performance bonuses. Director Amrhein explained that benchmarks for performance bonuses would need to be established well ahead of time. The Board can do that at anytime; it does not need to be tied to the contract because it would be tied to evaluation. She recommended letting Dori Brattain suggest language for performance bonuses. Chair Parker suggested that the Board Goals, the Continuous Improvement Plan goals, and the Ashland Quality Education Model Goals be included in the superintendent’s job description.
Chair Parker addressed retirement. Director Amrhein explained that this is called “supplemental retirement” in the other employee contracts. The purpose of supplemental retirement is to provide an insurance bridge – to provide insurance between the time of retirement and eligibility for Medicare. The Board agreed to revise this parameter to include consideration of an insurance bridge and to tie TSA to years of service in the district and PERS eligibility.
It was clarified that the current allowance for cell phone expense will remain the same, but it is not part of the superintendent’s contract.
The Board discussed Termination. It was clarified that “really tight” means closer to the middle between Due Process and Just Cause.
The revised parameters will be given to Director Patton to share with Dori Brattain.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:57 a.m.
Jeanne Peterson, Executive Secretary