Even though the Grass Valley school board postponed approval of a response Tuesday night to a report that claims the district's previous superintendent received unauthorized salary increases that "spiked" his retirement fund, the unapproved draft response reveals much about the district's stance on those allegations.
In the unapproved draft response to the Nevada County Civil Grand Jury, the Grass Valley School District disagreed that former Superintendent Jon Byerrum's first 2008 salary increase, from $116,720 to $121,388, was not authorized.
On the other hand, the district did agree that his second pay raise to $134,227, as well as his 2006 cash-in-lieu of health benefits swap, were not included on any agenda or voted on by the board.
"The former superintendent's income was mistakenly increased to this amount as it was not approved by formal action of the board," reads the district's unapproved response.
While the draft is subject to revision, it was prepared by the district's attorney based, in part, on the board of trustees' Aug. 2 meeting where the response to the jury's report was discussed.
Also in the draft, the district takes issue with the jury's indication that the board failed its financial responsibilities.
"(I)t is not the role of the board to verify employee salaries," reads a portion of the board's introduction to its response.
"Determining the accuracy of salary payments made to the district's 241 employees is the type of activity inherent to the district's day-to-day operations and, such, is necessarily delegated to district's administrative staff."
Subsequently, the district hired a personnel technician on Aug. 6, who is responsible for the management of all personnel information, including the accuracy of superintendent's contracts and salaries, according to the draft response to the jury report.
Board members Frank Bennallack and Tom Petitt, who were seated during the events in question, expressed apprehension Tuesday about approving the draft response until they have had time to more thoroughly read it and confer with the district's attorney.
Jeanne Michael is the only current member of the board who began her term after Byerrum's June 2010 retirement.
As the school board irons out its response, the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) is proceeding with its own investigation into Byerrum's retirement funds, said spokesman Ricardo Duran.
While CalSTRS has initiated correspondence with Byerrum and the district, it has not yet reached a determination, Duran said.
"These things take a lot of time," Duran said. "We have to make sure our case is as solid as we can make (it) because if we need to make a determination, it could effect his retirement for the rest of his life."
Superintendent Eric Fredrickson indicated Tuesday that a special meeting would scheduled before the Sept. 4 response deadline.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4236.