One of the best blogs on education is the Columbia Tribune's Class Notes, written by reporter Janese Heavin. She writes on all kinds of educational issues and does her best to pin down those in power.
In today's post, Ms. Heavin writes about the Columbia School Board's deliberation, in open session, over the superintendent's salary. Many school boards have been illegally discussing this subject in closed session over the years, using the umbrella "personnel" exception as their excuse.
There is no "personnel" exception in the Missouri Sunshine Law. Meetings can be closed (but don't have to be, something that most board members conveniently forget)to discuss hiring, firing, disciplining or promoting. Nowhere does it say meetings can be closed to discuss salary or benefits.
Ms. Heavin's post contains the following passage:
For those who went to bed at a normal time last night, the school board did, as promised, discuss Superintendent Phyllis Chase's salary in open session.
Just after 11 p.m. the board OK'd a 5 percent raise. That amounts to a $9,540 increase, bringing her salary up to $200,230. She also gets $7,200 for transportation, insurance, retirement and a cell phone.
At the same meeting, the board seemed to go back and forth on whether $500 to teacher base pay is enough. On one hand, it amounts to about a 4 percent increase -- more than the most recent raise of 2 to 3 percent that other public employees got. On the other hand, board members admitted teachers aren't paid what they're worth to begin with.
You have to give the Columbia board credit for being willing to follow the law and hold this discussion in open session. On the other hand, when you see the results, is it any wonder boards don't want the public peering over their shoulders when they continue to give superintendents lucrative pay packages.