Lakeville School Board to consider revised contract terms for cabinet member

Barb Knudsen, Lakeville Schools director of Teaching and Learning
Barb Knudsen, Lakeville Schools director of Teaching and Learning

After Lakeville Area School District officials conducted a financial review, a plan to overlap benefits for a new three-year contract for Barb Knudsen, director of teaching and learning, is being scrapped.

Superintendent Lisa Snyder said she will propose the district roll over Knudsen’s current contract for three more years, and freeze her per diem rate for severance and sick pay as of June 30, 2013.

According to Snyder, the plan is for Knudsen, 62, to retire in 2016, when she would receive a payout of about $131,547 in severance and unused sick leave, assuming she does not use her accumulated sick days in the next three years.

She would also receive district-paid insurance coverage for her and her spouse for 10 years post-retirement.

Snyder estimated insurance would cost about $1,000 per month, based on rates the district pays for retired employees receiving those benefits now.

The district has been moving employee contracts from a defined-benefit to a defined-contribution model, thus replacing big payouts of accumulated benefits with set annual and predictable contributions paid over time.

In April, Snyder proposed the district sunset Knudsen’s contract and implement a three-year defined-contribution contract.

Snyder said that upon review, the district has determined keeping Knudsen under terms of her current contract would be a less expensive option for the district.

“It’s more of a win-win,” Snyder said. “She gets to keep the contract she’s used to, and the board is not having to do a payout plus additional benefits for three years.”

Snyder said she has spoken to all School Board members about the plan, as well as Knudsen, and plans to review the contract proposal at the School Board’s May 14 work session.

At that time, she will also review her recommendation that Executive Director of Student Services Renae Ouillette move to the new cabinet contract and the district pay out her current contract’s earned benefits of about $80,000 in monthly installments of $952 over the next seven years.

Snyder is also requesting a 1 percent annual raise be included in both contracts.

The contracts are anticipated to be presented for approval at the School Board’s May 28 meeting.