Archive for Saturday, October 4, 2003

Board to talk with Weseman

Superintendent ‘frustrated’ with salary issue

October 4, 2003

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The Lawrence school board will meet behind closed doors again Tuesday in a continuing effort to persuade Supt. Randy Weseman to stay on the job.

Board members said Friday the meeting would give them a chance to talk face-to-face with Weseman, who has been superintendent since 2000.

Also Friday, Weseman spoke publicly for the first time since sending an e-mail to the board Wednesday saying he no longer wanted his job. The e-mail was sent the same day that the Journal-World printed a front-page listing of salaries for Weseman and other administrators in Lawrence and area school districts.

The e-mail read:

"Dear Board,

After careful consideration I have decided to ask that you begin the process of finding another superintendent. I will continue in my position for as long as it takes you to be comfortable with new leadership.

Respectfully

Randy Weseman"

'We support him'

The message prompted board members to meet Thursday evening in executive session to discuss the situation. The public and media are excluded from such sessions, and after the meeting, board members declined to comment.







On Friday, though, Weseman explained what he was feeling when he offered to resign.

"I was somewhat frustrated," he said. "There is a common thread among people that would like to see the state pull back from providing adequate funding to schools. One way is to say there are too many administrators. Another way is to say they make too much money."

Leni Salkind, board vice president, was in charge of scheduling Tuesday's meeting, because school board president Austin Turney is out of the country.

"This meeting is going to give a chance to sit down with Randy and talk to him about how much we support what he does," Salkind said. "Randy does a good job handling all of his responsibilities, and doing those without any assistance is not easy. We need to make sure we continue to show him how much we support him."

Just politics?

There was some speculation Weseman's e-mail was a response to the published salaries.

"I felt the article was disrespectful," board member Rich Minder said. "I don't care whether a person works part time at Wal-Mart or anywhere else, rubbing other people's nose in how much others make is just not right."

But Weseman said he was not upset or embarrassed about his salary being published. It wasn't the first time his salary has been printed in the newspaper, he said.

Under state law, public school district employee compensation is a matter of public record.

The package in Wednesday's newspaper listed salaries and explained a new state law requiring all school districts to provide to newspapers by Oct. 1 of each year lists of administrators' names, their titles and pay.

"I think the Oct. 1 decision to publish salaries is completely political," Weseman said. "People in the Legislature who don't want to fund public schools just want to prove to the public that we are paid too much money to try to justify their actions."

Outpouring of support

A comparison of the Lawrence district salaries with those paid administrators in other Kansas 6A school districts showed Weseman and fellow Lawrence administrators' salaries were roughly in line with those of their counterparts. A story making that comparison appeared in Friday's Journal-World.

Weseman said after seeing Friday's newspaper and the show of support from the board he was more willing to stay in the job.

"I started my career here in Lawrence," he said. "I just want to know that I have the support from the community to continue doing my job."

And by Friday afternoon, Weseman said, he had received nearly 100 e-mails and 70 phone calls indicating support for his work and his administration.

Tuesday's special meeting is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.

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