District continues vacation buy back setting total compensation at $197,660 starting July 1
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison Community School District has extended Superintendent Dr. Erin Slater’s contract by one year.
The extension was approved 5-2 Tuesday as part of the district’s regular Board of Director’s meeting held by teleconference Monday night.
According to a copy of the contract received from Slater Tuesday afternoon, The move bumps Slater’s salary package beginning July 1 to $197,669 annually. That figure includes $14,000 in the district’s buyback of seven days vacation at $2,000 per day.
The district also pays for a family health and dental plan with a $1,000 deductible, long-term disability, and $100,000 life insurance.
The board declined to extend Slater’s contract in 2019 after an issue came up regarding alleged interference with coaching decisions on playing time at Fort Madison High School’s sports programs. Her husband was also caught on video confronting FMHS head basketball coach Ryan Wilson, who then came forward with the allegations.
Board President Dr. Tim Wondra released a statement following the meeting Tuesday explaining the move and the 1.6% salary increase that comes with the extension. The board hadn’t taken action on Slater’s contract since 2018.
“During these unprecedented times the Board felt ensuring continuity at the top of our district has never been more paramount and thankfully our Superintendent, our District Administrators, Principals and Instructional Coaches are in place and will provide steady leadership to our staff and students,” Wondra wrote in the release.
“We will need all their experience and knowledge as we move forward. The FMCSD Board and Dr. Slater are committed to continuing the positive relationship they have developed over the past four years with staff, students, parents and the community.”
Wondra also highlighted Slater’s commitments to the community as a member of Kiwanis and Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, and Lee County Economic Development Group. Slater was also appointed to the Great Prairie Area Education Agency’s Superintendent’s Advisory Council last year.
Slater’s board evaluation was conducted last month in closed session. The last evaluation took three closed sessions and close to five weeks for the board to determine they wouldn’t be taking action on the contract that year.
Board members Brad Menke and Brian Steffensmeier voted against the extension. Steffensmeier said he thought Slater was doing a good job, but in the current uncertain times he was concerned about spending the additional money.
“I feel in these times we should table this until we know if the budget is going to be cut,” Steffensmeier said when casting his vote. “We’re in uncertain times. Erin, you’re doing a good job, but where do we start cutting. We know the budget’s going to get cut and I feel bad that your evaluation has come up at this time.”
Slater came to the district at the start of the 2016 school year with a contract for $170,000 per year. However the district bought out 15 days of her vacation increasing her pay to $188,000. For the next two years the district again purchased seven vacation days at $2,000 per day taking her total compensation to $192,000 in 2018. Her 2017-18 contract called for a salary of $178,000.
No extension or salary adjustment was given in 2019.
In other action, the board:
• approved the purchase of a new football scoreboard for the high school field at a cost of $58,702. The board also approved lifetime advertising contracts with Lee County Bank, Pilot Grove Savings Bank, Connection Bank and Mohrfeld Electric. The three banks committed $15,000 each for lifetime spots on three of the boards, while Mohrfeld Electric will get a spot as trade for costs associated with the erection and installation of the sign.
• suspended graduation requirements for the senior class of 2020 due to the pandemic outbreak.
• suspended the 2020 school calendar in the wake of Gov. Kim Reynolds cancellation of the rest of the school year.
• approved an independent audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019 with high marks for the district’s financial processes.
• heard from a parent who was concerned the district’s system for calculating GPA at the high school is detrimental to some students taking additional coursework.