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New superintendent for Hays USD 489 gets pay raise

12/13/2013

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Dean Katt will get a pay raise now that he's taken on the job permanently.

Katt, who replaced the retiring Will Roth, was hired in September as the interim under a 13-month contract at a salary of $11,360.42 a month, or $147,685.46, for the 13-month period.

His annual salary as Ottawa superintendent, where he resigned in March, was reported in the Lawrence Journal World as $130,786, or $10,899 a month.

The employment agreement signed by Hays USD 489 BOE President Greg Schwartz on Monday lists Katt's base annual salary as $147,456, or $12,288 a month plus benefits -- a raise of $11,131 annually or $928 per month from his interim salary.

The contract includes a six-month salary buy-out clause if the superintendent is terminated by the district, unless under certain conditions.

He also would receive payment for unused vacation time and his health insurance paid for six months in that event.

Voluntary resignation won't invoke the severance requirements, according to the agreement.

The board hired the Kansas Association of School Boards in October to conduct a superintendent search.

"Any time you have an internal candidate who is planning -- probably -- to apply, that affects the whole process," KASB consultant Max Heim said.

Heim recommended, first in executive session and later in the open meeting, the board hire Katt and stop the search.

As part of the search process, Heim and Gary Secrist facilitated focus groups to gather staff and community input on characteristics and qualities for the next superintendent.

"We listened, we heard, and we feel that we've got that sitting right here at the table," BOE vice president Darren Schumacher said.

"I don't see an area that you would be void or deficient in," Josh Waddell said. "I think you meet all those qualifications very well."

Katt was selected as the interim from five candidates interviewed by the board.

The district had a "very strong pool" of candidates, Waddell said.

"Your strengths, what we were asking you versus what you posed to us, I would say you were dead on the mark, true to form, and have lived up very well."

The Hays National Education Association has filed an investigation request into an alleged violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act by the board.

The request, filed in September by Kathy Rome, KNEA UniServ director, alleges the board "violated the KOMA in offering a contract to the interim superintendent."

Rome said the investigation request has nothing to do with Katt.

"It's simply that we feel that our school board should follow the laws and follow the procedures as they should be," she said.

Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees said he is looking into the allegation but hasn't set a timeline to complete the investigation.

Katt was Ottawa USD 290 superintendent from 2006 until his resignation in March. He continued as a consultant for USD 290 until accepting the interim superintendent position.

He grew up in Ellis and graduated from Alma High School. He received his bachelor's degree in education in 1982 and his master's in education administration in 1992 from Fort Hays State University.

His professional history includes teaching in Deerfield, high school principal in Holcomb, and Scott City superintendent before moving to Ottawa.

His wife Ronda, a Lawrence elementary school teacher, remained in Ottawa.