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Superintendent, Three Administrators Take Cuts; Contracts Extended

Ferndale Public Schools Superintendent Gary Meier's contract was amended and extended five years. Contracts were extended one year for three people on the executive administration staff.

Ferndale Public Schools Superintendent Gary Meier will lead Ferndale Schools for at least another five years after the Board of Education approved to amended his contract on a vote of 5-1 Monday night.

"It's the best interest of the district, of Gary and ourselves to approve the amended contract," Board President Charles Moeser said before the vote.

The five-year extension is the maximum the board is legally allowed to extend, Moeser said. The contract goes from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2016.

Board member Karen Twomey cast the lone no vote Monday. Board member Jim Pfelger is on a family vacation and had an excused absence.

The amended contract calls for Meier to take a 5 percent pay decrease and a reduction in health insurance benefits; it also continues language that allows Meier to pursue consulting opportunities for the first three years of the contract.

The cut in pay will save the district $37,000 and the cut in benefits an additional $20,000 over the life of the contract.

Twomey expressed concern with the five-year extension.

"I think it's a bad idea to extend a contract over two years," she said. "I am absolutely very appreciative of (Meier's) sacrifice, and this is no way against the superintendent, but a five-year contract for a leadership position is too long."

Twomey moved to have the issue tabled for further discussion. The motion failed 2-4. Board member Nancy Kerr-Mueller voted yes on the motion in a show of support for her colleague, she said. In the end, the contract was approved.

"I think he's done a good job in our district," Moeser said. "We want to keep him tied up as long as we can. That kind of contract keeps him tied up in this district."

Public records show that Meier made $231,462.09 in 2010, which includes a $140,000 base salary, $35,000 for purchase of retirement service, 15 percent of salary for an annuity and $4,200 for professional services, plus miscellaneous board-paid benefits.

Meier's consulting work has included teaching college classes, speaking engagements and working with public and private schools on school culture and teaching and learning through Innovative Consulting Education (ICE) — a company Meier owns.

ICE and the district have a fee-for-service agreement, which the Board of Education had also extended Monday night. The agreement includes clerical, technology and financial services.

The contract has generated $225,ooo during each of the past two years for the district, said Stephanie Hall, director of pupil services and community relations. The new fee-for-service contract with ICE for the next three years will provide similar district services and will generate an additional $498,130, Hall added.

Administrators' contracts amended, extended

The board on Monday also unanimously approved contract amendments for Henry Gold, deputy superintendent; Barb Evoe, executive director of curriculum and instruction; and Maureen Adams, executive director of finance.

Their amended contracts have modified their health benefits to a 20 percent insurance premium contribution, saving the district $4,000 a year per contract. There weren't any salary reductions, but their contracts were extended a year, and consulting language was incorporated similar to that in Meier's contract.

Hall said she was unaware of any consulting Evoe or Adams has performed. She said Gold has done educational consulting.

Kerr-Mueller said she hadn't fully read through the contract amendments and made a motion to table the items for one month.

Moeser expressed that these contracts have already moved through the staff relations committee without any dissension and that he recommended the board move forward with them now.

Kerr-Mueller said she was unsure of what the consultant language would mean for the executive administration staff.

Kerr-Mueller's motion failed 2-4, with Twomey the lone supporter of it. Yet the contract amendments would eventually pass unanimously, with Kerr-Mueller voting in favor of it.

Twomey said her constituents expressed concerns that ICE might lead to schools being chartered out of the Ferndale School District.

Meier said the work ICE has done is not in any way related to running charter schools from the Ferndale district.

"We consult for public and charter schools," Meier said. "I have no interest in running charter schools in Ferndale or anywhere else. The work is in support of actually improving the quality of school culture and teachers in high schools. I'm not in the charter school business, don't intend on being in the charter school business."

Greg Pawlica June 23, 2011 at 02:39 PM
I have to agree with Ms. Twomey; a five-year contract is WAY too long. Mr. Meier's has done an acceptable job as Superintendent, but given that he has been in this position for many, many years, perhaps it could have been a time to seek out other leaders to move the district forward through the 21st century. Even corporations seek out new leaders after so many years...it's a way to keep fresh and new ideas flowing. With all the downsizing and merging of school distrcits throughout the country, perhaps a more qualified Superintendent is out there that could do more...for less pay and benefits. In a school disctrict, the ones that should profit the most are the students, but I don't always see that happening in Ferndale.
Terry Parris Jr. June 23, 2011 at 10:43 PM
Greg: What would you like to see out of Gary Meier that you're not seeing now?

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