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USD 489 rehires employee

7/8/2014

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

After terminating employment of longtime maintenance supervisor Francis Hammerschmidt at the June 23 meeting, the Hays USD 489 Board of Education voted 6-0 Monday night to rehire him.

James Leiker, who was elected board president during the board reorganization portion of the meeting, was absent.

Newly elected board vice president Marty Patterson presided over the meeting.

The vote to rehire Hammerschmidt, formerly supervisor of grounds and maintenance, as a building systems maintenance technician didn't come without discussion, though -- in open meeting and behind closed doors.

Immediately after convening, the board voted to remove personnel transactions from the consent agenda and place them near the end of new business.

After approving the agenda change, the board entered into a 30-minute executive session with Superintendent Dean Katt, Assistant Superintendent Mark Hauptman, curriculum director Shanna Dinkel, business manager Tracy Kaiser and board attorney Bill Jeter to discuss non-elected personnel.

When addressing personnel transactions on the agenda, the board initially disagreed on whether to rehire Hammerschmidt.

At the June 23 meeting, the board approved hiring Rusty Lindsay as director of buildings and grounds, a newly created position.

Kaiser said the district should save approximately $34,470 in salaries and benefits even after hiring Lindsay and Hammerschmidt because of positions eliminated earlier.

Despite the projected estimated savings, board member Lance Bickle said he was concerned with the cost.

"We're now up to $119,000 between those two positions," Bickle said. "I understand (we're) saving some money on that. (I'd) just as soon bring back one elementary teacher. We had one person in that position before. I don't feel we need two people at that high a pay scale at that position."

Board member Josh Waddell said the board discussed upgrading technology and bringing back three elementary teachers as priorities at the retreat in May.

"I'm not convinced that we have done all that we can. After some of the things that we discussed in executive session, I am not comfortable with the way the pay scales were considered, especially in light with the situation with the district, and I have got some reservations and some questions right now," he said. "I am not comfortable with some things that are going on."

After a motion to eliminate Hammerschmidt's rehire and approve the other personnel transactions, and a motion to approve all of the personnel transactions both failed, Lindsay, the new maintenance and grounds director, asked to meet with the board in executive session.

The board, central office administrators, Jeter, Kaiser and Lindsay entered into executive session for 15 minutes to discuss non-elected personnel.

After 15 minutes, the board entered into another 15-minute executive session for the same reason to include the same people except Lindsay.

Following the second 15-minute executive session, the board returned to open session and voted 6-0 to approve all of the personnel transactions, including rehiring Hammerschmidt.

"I think we're making a big mistake financially," board member Greg Schwartz said. "I think the perception with the teachers and the other staff, it's not going to set well, and that's where my concern and objection to this lies."

The board has been making changes, such as not participating in hiring committees and negotiations committees, "to put this in the hands of the superintendent with the understanding that we hire and fire that one employee," Schwartz said.

"If he's doing as he should, and we think he is, then we should support those decisions," Schwartz said. "So although I'm opposed to the position, I am in support of the superintendent. I'm going to give my vote for that reason alone."

"We hired Dean and (have) given him authority to hire these positions. We've had discussions with him numerous times over a couple of these (positions), and this is the point where we are. So I would submit that at this time we agree to this, and take Dean's recommendation on this," board member Sarah Rankin said. "They've done their due diligence regarding salary on this."