Board sheds more light on $20,000 raise for deputy superintendent, now says stand-alone vote wasn’t taken
District leaders are now acknowledging that the Lawrence school board never did take a stand-alone vote to give Deputy Superintendent Anna Stubblefield a $20,000 raise.
Instead, the raise — which amounted to about a 13 percent pay increase — was approved earlier this month as part of the district’s overall budget, which included a 30-page summary that broke down details of the budget and included Stubblefield’s raise with other new spending allocations for 2018-2019.
But school board members said the approval process was transparent because the board had discussed the idea of giving Stubblefield a raise at the May and June school board meetings.
“The board wasn’t trying to hide anything,” board member Shannon Kimball said. “I think it was out there. We talked about it in May and June and as part of our budget discussions.”
The issue of the raise came up at last week’s board meeting after board members received an email questioning how the raise was approved and the appropriateness of it, given that the school district is still trying to negotiate a pay plan with the local teachers union.
On Monday, Board President Jessica Beeson said she believed the board had taken action to approve the raise at a May or June school board meeting. But she also added she was speaking from memory rather than from notes. On Tuesday, the Journal-World asked district leaders to point to the specific meeting at which the raise was approved.
Upon further review, Beeson and Kimball now say there never was a stand-alone vote to increase Stubblefield’s salary to $170,000 a year before it was authorized as part of the board’s Aug. 13 approval of the 2018-2019 budget. But they say the board discussed in May and June the need for a salary increase to help ensure Stubblefield stayed with the district.
Stubblefield was promoted to deputy superintendent in June 2017, but didn’t start in that position until July 1, 2018. At the time of raise discussions, Stubblefield was ending her tenure as the district’s interim superintendent for the 2017-2018 school year.
“Normally, the board doesn’t get into the details of salaries of the staff other than the superintendent,” Beeson said. “In this case, we were in the unique position of dealing with an interim superintendent who would move to the deputy superintendent position.”
The raise brought Stubblefield’s salary to $170,000 a year. It isn’t clear whether that amount was ever specifically discussed as part of the board’s discussion. Meeting minutes from May and June do not reflect a discussion about a potential raise for Stubblefield.
Beeson and Kimball said members of the public did have an opportunity to learn about the raise prior to it being approved as part of the budget. They said the board discussed the salary increase on July 23 — when it was part of a 30-page summary of the 2018-2019 budget that Kathy Johnson, the district’s finance director, presented to the board — and again when the budget was approved on Aug. 13. The budget summary Johnson presented was available for public viewing with the posted agendas for the two meetings, they said.
Beeson addressed Stubblefield’s raise and the salary of Superintendent Anthony Lewis at Monday’s board meeting in response to emails board members received last weekend that questioned why the board didn’t provide bigger wage increases for teachers and paraeducators rather than give Lewis and Stubblefield raises.
Beeson said Lewis did not get a raise as part of the budget approval process. Rather, when he was hired in January, the board took a specific vote to approve his $215,000 annual salary. The 2018-2019 budget did include an adjustment to authorize paying Lewis $10,000 more than the $205,000 former superintendent Kyle Hayden was paid for the 2015-2016 school year.