CPS board discusses contract for new superintendent

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | 10:11 p.m. CST; updated 10:28 a.m. CST, Thursday, March 5, 2009

COLUMBIA — The Columbia School Board plans to offer Kearney Superintendent Chris Belcher a contract that differs on some points from the one it offered Phyllis Chase, former superintendent, in 2003.

The board used Chase's contract as a working model for the one it intends to offer Belcher, who will take over for interim Superintendent Jim Ritter in July. Ritter has served in that role since Chase's retirement in August 2008.

Belcher revealed his expected salary of $180,000 and a few of the terms he and representatives of the board discussed when he was offered the position.

During a meeting Wednesday evening, the board discussed the 12 points of the contract, most of which remained unchanged. But some members took issue with a few provisions, including the contract's renewal process, vacation time and reimbursements.

Tom Rose, Karla DeSpain and Ines Segert said they would rather take “positive action” and discuss the extension of the superintendent's contract every year. Chase's contract automatically renewed each year on May 1.

Additionally, the contract provided the superintendent 18 days of vacation per year and over time, the superintendent could accrue 60 days of vacation. This was reduced to 36 days, consistent with time allowed to other district employees.

Until Chase, the district's superintendents were also given a car. The board provided Chase an annual transportation allowance of $7,200, or $600 per month.

Segert said , given his salary, the allowance seemed a bit high. Other board members agreed, but said the amount was appropriate because Belcher would not receive compensation for mileage and gas.

The board discussed increased oversight of the superintendent's other expenses. Under Chase's contract, the board president would approve any other “reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of her duties upon submission of receipts.”

Board President Michelle Gadbois said few such instances had occurred, but  in the future, the entire board should review requests for reimbursement.

The district's attorney will now draw up the final contract, which will be voted on at the board's next meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at 1818 W. Worley St.

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