Criticism over administrative salaries has Lawrence Supt. Randy Weseman ready to resign.
In an e-mail Wednesday, Weseman told the seven members of the Lawrence school board that if another round of administrative cuts were necessary, the board could begin by eliminating him and seeking other leadership for the district.
Weseman's e-mail drew immediate vows of support from two board members who called a news conference Thursday to praise the superintendent.
"The board does not want to change leadership," board member Sue Morgan said. "I am concerned about the possibility of losing Randy and the impact it would have on the district."
Morgan and fellow board member Cindy Yulich applauded Weseman for his hard work and said they did not think he or any other administrator in the district was overpaid.
A package on the front page of Wednesday's Journal-World detailed the salaries of Weseman and fellow district administrators in Lawrence and other area districts. The salary lists were supplied by the districts in compliance with a new state law requiring all Kansas school districts to submit administrative salaries and job titles to newspapers.
"I think that when we look at salaries for one school district like Lawrence, we should compare them with other school districts similar in size," Yulich said. "We need to be looking at the salaries at other 6A schools, not districts that are a third of the size of ours."
After working in the district for nearly 27 years, Weseman's annual salary is $130,320, according to the report. That salary is comparable with superintendents in other 6A districts such as Blue Valley, Topeka, Shawnee Mission and Salina.
"You could not find another person to step into the position for less money," Morgan said. "The last time we found an outside replacement we ended up paying more than the other superintendent."
Kathleen Williams, Weseman's predecessor, was paid $122,000 a year. She served until the end of the 2000 school year.
The two board members also defended the district's number of administrators.
"We have good people on our staff," Morgan said. "Qualified people should be paid for their hard work. We have made so many cuts over the years and now people like Randy are doing the job of three or four people."
Districts such as Blue Valley, which has about 7,000 students more than the Lawrence district's enrollment of about 9,800, have four assistant superintendents. The Lawrence district has none.
The Geary County district, which has almost 4,000 fewer students than Lawrence, has three assistant superintendents doing jobs similar to those done in Lawrence by administrators with other job titles.
"We (the school district) are as lean as we can possibly get," said Lawrence school board member Linda Robinson. "I have no problem with the level of pay we give to our staff, and I support them 100 percent."
The school board called an executive session Thursday evening to further discuss issues raised by Weseman's e-mail.
"We just need to re-evaluate and discuss how to respond to Randy's e-mail," Morgan said. "We need to show him that we support him and realize the hard work he puts forth for this district."
After the meeting, which lasted about 90 minutes, board member Leni Salkind said no action was taken and declined to comment further. Other board members also declined to comment.
Weseman was not present during the executive session, and did not return phone calls Thursday.
-- 6News Reporter Sharita Hutton can be reached at 832-6322.
-- Staff writer Katie Nelson contributed to this report.