MUNSTER | Two people contend if the Munster School Board shaves a little money off the new superintendent's salary and benefits, the district can save some money.
The Board of Trustees for the School Town of Munster held a public hearing on the new superintendent's salary as required by law Wednesday night, before naming him. The board did not release a copy of the contract, saying it was subject to change, but allowed the public to read it.
Resident Kevin Cappo said Munster is a small community and, "You're already giving him a huge salary and you're giving him a $5,000 annuity, too."
Cappo said the school system only has five schools, and he believes the district is paying above the going rate for superintendents.
Resident Michael Brody said in light of the district's fiscal problems and upcoming teacher contract negotiations, perhaps it could reduce some of the superintendent's benefits.
"I don't know if this is the platinum insurance plan or what, but maybe you could reduce it to the gold plan and save a couple thousand dollars," he said. "I don't understand why the superintendent needs $6,000 a year reimbursement for car expenses."
Last May, Munster voters passed a property tax increase of 19.9 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to raise $3 million a year for seven years, supporting the school district’s general fund. That fund pays for salaries, benefits, utilities and some programs. The district has said it has lost money each year since 2002, and would have had to make cuts if the referendum had not been approved.
Meanwhile, the new superintendent will be named at the board's May 12 school board meeting. That person will replace Superintendent Richard Sopko, who is retiring.
School Board President Judith Florczak said the board conducted an extensive search with the assistance of the University Search Team.
"It was nine months worth of work," she said. "We put a lot of work and effort into this.
There were also community meetings and sessions with administrators and teachers to get their input. Florczak said there are many superintendent vacancies across Indiana, and they were looking for a strong leader who could take the district to the next level and someone who understands finances.
In Lake and Porter counties alone, there are six school superintendents retiring.
The contract for Munster's new superintendent is three years from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2013. It calls for an annual salary of $155,000. It includes the same benefits as provided to school employees, including health insurance ($16,656), vision insurance ($130.92), long-term disability insurance ($405), term life insurance ($1,260) and entitlement to sick days, vacation days and bereavement leave.
The board will contribute to the Indiana Teachers' Retirement Fund at the current rate of 10.5% of gross annual salary. The board also will contribute $5,000 a year to a tax-deferred annuity of the superintendent’s choice. There is an automobile expense reimbursement valued at $6,000 per year.