2010-10-20 / Front Page

Anger grows towards HB superintendent and school board

By Dave Fredrick Editor

Steve Schawb addresses the Harbor Beach school board. Photo by Dave Fredrick Steve Schawb addresses the Harbor Beach school board. Photo by Dave Fredrick Tempers are beginning to burst at Harbor Beach school board meetings as angry residents continue to question school board members about what they feel is a large compensation package for the district’s superintendent and what some feel are other educational shortcomings.

At their most recent meeting, on Oct. 13, school board members listened as a crowd of over 80 people once again voiced their displeasure over the controversial topic.

Following the meeting, which featured over 30 minutes of public comment, members of the audience continued their tirade, facing off with board members in heated discussions.

After the meeting, in his office during an interview with the County Press, Kraft said despite the negative feelings from the community, he remains focused on the students.

“For me, it has always been about the kids and how to help this district,” he said. “We have a policy that says we feel all kids will learn. I have been, and will continue to do everything I can to help accomplish that.”

Harbor Beach Superintendent Ron Kraft (right) discusses replacing the board members who resigned last week. At left is board Vice-President Neal Laeder who chaired the meeting. Photo by Dave Fredrick Harbor Beach Superintendent Ron Kraft (right) discusses replacing the board members who resigned last week. At left is board Vice-President Neal Laeder who chaired the meeting. Photo by Dave Fredrick With that in mind, Kraft suggested to the board that they consider adjusting the administrative structure of the school district and hire a full-time principal and reducing his superintendent’s role to part-time.

“Maybe this board needs to take a look at hiring a full-time principal. Just pay me a prorated fee based on my salary ($104,000) and I work three days a week. I do not need sick days, or vacation days. There could be a considerable savings to the district.”

The embattled superintendent said the board, should they choose to pursue the change, needs to move quickly.

“If you decide to do this and bring someone in, there are some natural breaks built in, like between semesters. The danger of that is trying to get a new person on board and learn how you do things here. You could wait until this summer, but I feel it is important for the person to be a part of the Master Schedule process too. I would suggest maybe late May or early June, if you decided to do this.”

Kraft cautioned the board that if they did hire a new principal, and trends of declining enrollment continues, “guess who the first person is that is being laid off? It is your new principal. There is an ethical part to this decision, too,” he stated.

The board felt it wanted to continue to investigate and will research the matter further.

Board member Gene Holdwick commented, “We’ve run into some bumps in the road. Perhaps there are too many responsibilities and not enough flexibility.”

In public comment, a number of residents addressed the board with anger in their voices and applauded at other’s statements.

Doug Rees told the board, “you need to eliminate the superintendent position and have a diretor of personnel and two full-time principals.” Laurie Roggenbuck said, “He talked about pro-rating his salary, but that doesn’t address the issue of him being over compensated in the first place.”

Steve Schawb, who had spoken out against the board and superintendent at an earlier meeting, came to last week’s meeting armed with research he had done. He painted a gloomy picture of the district and said they could potentially save, “over $450,000” by making changes in operations.

Kraft has an annual salary of $104,000.00 based on 225 workdays per fiscal year. In addition are 12 sick days per fiscal year, 15 vacation days per fiscal year and a salary for High School Principal in the amount of $49,200.00, based on 4 hrs. per day/225 workdays per fiscal year.

He is also paid for checking roads and weather conditions in the amount of $5,000.00 and is paid $9,204.36 for days worked over 225.

The superintendent receives cumulative sick day pay out from current and previous years (82 days X $484.44) $39,724.08 and an annuity benefits payment of $30,000.00 for a total salary of $237,128.44.

In addition, similar to other contracts, Kraft receives fringe benefits, including employer paid FICA of $10,260.32, employer paid MPSERS of $33,294.51, employer paid Worker's Compensation $692.02; Health Insurance $17,303.45; Vision Insurance $85.35; Dental Insurance $1,000.00; Life Insurance $214.20; Long Term Disability Insurance $188.86 for total benefits of $63,038.71.

His total combined package, including superintendent, high school principal and other duties, plus fringe benefits is $300,167.15.

Likewise, Denise Kish, who shares time as the district’s high school principal, in addition to being principal of the elementary and Director of Curriculum, makes a sizeable amount of money.

Her base salary for those duties, with the exception of high school principal is $92,000.00, along with 12 sick days per fiscal year and 15 vacation days per fiscal year. She receives a High School Principal salary of $20,800.00 and an additional annual scheduling payment of $15,000.00. She gets a per diem to cover in classrooms in the amount of $1,160.01 and a longevity payment of $8,000.00 for a total salary of $136,960.01.

Additionally, Kish gets a fringe benefits package that includes; Employer Paid FICA of $8,621.56; Employer Paid MPSERS of $23,512.04; Employer Paid Worker's Compensation of $381.78; Health Insurance in the amount of $14,798.00; Vision Insurance of $194.35; Dental Insurance of $496.80; Life Insurance in the amount of $198.90 and a Long Term Disability Insurance of $175.37 for total benefits of $48,378.80. Kish has a total combined HS and K- 8 Principal/Curriculum Director package of $185,338.81.

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