New superintendent will be paid $185,000

District 191 board approves
contract with Gothard

School District 191’s new superintendent will be paid a base salary of $185,000 next year under a three-year contract approved by the School Board May 2.

Joe Gothard’s salary rises to $186,800 for the 2014-15 school year and to $188,600 for 2015-16.

Gothard will replace retiring Superintendent Randy Clegg, who is paid $180,000.

Gothard, 41, is assistant superintendent for secondary education in the Madison, Wis., school district. He has spent his career in the 25,000-student district as a biology teacher, high school dean of students, middle school principal, high school principal and assistant superintendent.

Gothard will join the 9,500-student Burnsville-Eagan-Savage district on July 1.

Board Chair Sandy Sweep and Board Member Jim Schmid negotiated contract terms with Gothard after the board voted April 10 to offer him the job.

Under the contract, Gothard wouldn’t be paid for unused sick leave when he leaves the district. The contract grants 12 sick days per year, which can accumulate to 36 during the three years of the contract.

If his contract isn’t renewed, Gothard would be paid for vacation days (28 per school year) that he hasn’t used or forfeited. Days not taken within six months after the school year in which they were earned will be forfeited.

“Alternately, the School Board may require the superintendent to use his days of accrued but unused vacation during the last three months of this contract,” it reads.

Gothard will get a $400 monthly car allowance for use of his private vehicle. If he chooses, the district will match by up to $2,000 per school year his contributions to a qualifying tax-sheltered annuity.

District will self-insure

The board also voted May 2 to leave insurance provider Medica in favor of a self-insured health plan for district employees.

Officials hope that self-insurance – in which the district, not an insurer, collects premiums, pays claims and maintains its own reserve – will help them get a handle on ever-spiraling health care costs.

Under Medica, the district’s premium was capped at a 12 percent increase next school year, but was projected to skyrocket by 50 percent the following year, Schmid said.

Over the last decade, premium hikes have averaged 11 to 14 percent a year, Board Member Ron Hill said.

The district spends about $11 million from its $110 million budget on health insurance, Hill said.

Under fully-insured plans with third-party providers, the district has always budgeted for worst-case increases, Sweep said.

With self-insurance, “we’ll be more in control of that,” she said. Officials didn’t predict how much the district might save under self-insurance.

With self-insurance, the district won’t be subject to taxes and assessments that insurance companies must pay, said Al Hofstede, the district’s insurance consultant.

Under Medica, the company pooled the risk of all its policyholders and the district’s premium reflected that – not its own experience with health claims, Hofstede said.

The switch to self-insurance was recommended by the district’s insurance committee, which includes employee-group representatives.

Members of the largest group, the teachers union, voted for the switch April 29.