The contract for Waconia Public Schools’ Superintendent Pat Devine was a point of contention early this year before being resolved in late February. It came up again last week at two school board meetings.
The contract was eventually agreed to following delays, complications and two high-profile meetings where teachers, staff and community members urged that Devine be retained to lead the district. The renewed contract was slated to run from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2022, the superintendent’s anticipated retirement date.
However, late last month, Devine announced his retirement from the position effective July 1 this year when he reached “rule of 90” retirement age for Teachers Retirement Association (TRA) purposes. The announcement came with a suggestion to explore return-to-work options to continue his relationship with Waconia schools.
That arrangement had been discussed during earlier contract negotiations, and the board last Wednesday, July 1, approved a two-year return-to-work, or re-employment contract, that would enable Devine to take advantage of his pension benefit and the school district to re-engage his services effective July 3. So, the retirement was short-lived – just three days.
“In working with TRA, there are some logistics and timing to consider when continuing the contract I was hoping for,” Devine said. “I am pleased that all details have been worked out and I am thankful for my relationship with the school board and their willingness to continue my employment.”
District lawyer Mick Waldspurger indicated similar arrangements have been made with superintendents in other districts and that Devine’s re-employment contract would be cost-neutral to District 110. It would allow carryover vacation and unused sick leave from Devine’s previous employment with the school district
The contract was approved on a 5-1 vote with board member Mike Bullis objecting to terms of the terms of the contract and the short retirement notice. Board member Ken Varble was unable to attend the meeting.
As an alternative, Bullis proposed a one-year agreement instead of two years. Also, an amendment to continue the contract without the district continuing to make TRA-equivalent contributions as part of Devine’s compensation package; however, both motions failed for lack of a second.
In other business last week, the school board reviewed a first draft of a school school handbook that outlines duties, expectations, accountabilities, operating processes and resources for school board members. The board also reviewed a revised board committee structure and calendar. The intent, board members indicated, is to align all three elements to provide better structure to board service and proceedings. The handbook, committee assignments and calendar are expected to be finalized in the next several weeks.
Three school board positions are up for election this fall. The filing period for those positions runs from July 28 through Aug. 11. More details about running for school board are available on the district website: www.isd100.org.