A routine discussion about how to calculate the superintendent's salary led to a fervent debate and a split vote Monday as Fort Wayne Community Schools board members discussed a possible base salary increase and incentive payments for the district's leader.
While all board members praised Superintendent Wendy Robinson for her dedicated leadership, one board member voiced concern about how a pay raise would sit with the employees who are laid off or had hours cut. Another board member suggested re-evaluating the compensation worksheet.
The worksheet, first approved in 2011, is used to determine base salary increases and incentive payments for the superintendent.
The worksheet sets the parameters for the maximum increase, but not the actual pay, which will be determined at a future date, board president Mark GiaQuinta said.
The minimum base pay that Robinson would receive in 2014-15 would be $192,150, according to the worksheet. The worksheet then combines possible base salary increases and incentive payments based on performance.
The maximum base salary increase for the 2014-15 school year would be $19,215, based on the district's performance using criteria such as student test results and the school board's evaluation. The maximum incentive payment for Robinson's performance in 2013-14 would be $15,372.
If Robinson receives the maximum base salary increase and incentive payment, her total compensation would be $226,737, according to the worksheet.
The decision to move forward with the current worksheet was approved 5-2 with board members Lisa Olinger and Glenna Jehl voting in opposition.
The superintendent evaluation form has undergone minor adjustments in recent years, including changes to the portion of the evaluation that factors in district performance.
Those revisions have been made because of delays at the state level, including a delay in the release of ISTEP scores which would be factored into the district's performance, GiaQuinta said.
Olinger said she would like the board to make changes to the document based on what information the state makes available – rather than abandoning a portion of the evaluation because they don't have access to certain data.
"For years and years, superintendents had their pay increased and there were no evaluations turned in by board members. None. There wasn't even a process," GiaQuinta said. "The fact that we changed a part of the process because the state doesn't give us ISTEP data, to me, is an inconvenience, but it doesn't come anywhere close to invalidating the evaluation process."
Jehl said she could not approve the worksheet knowing that it meant another increase in pay for an administrator while teachers and staff have been laid off or had hours cut.
"I think it's just insensitive for us to continuously raise the superintendents' wages by a significant amount every year," Jehl said. "It's not that she's not doing a good job. It's not that we don't appreciate everything she does. I just think there's a real disconnect between what is really affordable."
In November 2012, Robinson declined an increase to her base salary and accepted just a performance bonus of $9,450. During the 2012-13 school year, Robinson received a total salary of $189,450, a cut from the $195,000 she received in 2011-2012. Robinson will receive $201,150 for the 2013-14 school year, which includes a $9,000 incentive payment from the 2012-13 school year.
According to the worksheet, Robinson becomes eligible for incentive payments when she meets goals that have been set by board members and she receives performances bonuses based on how the district performs.
Robinson has served as the district's leader since 2003 and in 2009 signed a five-year contract that will award her $30,000 in bonus pay if she stays the entire five years.
Also on Monday, the board recognized Michael Caywood as the 2013 State Elementary Principal of the Year for the Indiana Association of School Principals.
Caywood has been principal of Mabel K. Holland Elementary School since 1983.
He was also named the District Elementary Principal of District 3, which includes Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Lagrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties.
In her letter to the association, Superintendent Robinson wrote Caywood addresses the learning of the whole child through nature, science and hands-on experiences.
"Mike truly exemplifies the educator who loves to learn and makes sure that his students share that joy with him," Robinson wrote.