Tensions ran high at the Nevada Joint Union High School District board meeting Wednesday as trustees disagreed over contract extensions for two administrative level employees.
Board members split the vote on three-year contract extensions for assistant superintendents Karen Suenram and Trish Dellis, as board member Wayne Klauer argued against approving the extensions due to projected declines in district enrollment.
“We don’t know what the student population is going to be so we don’t know what our administrative need would be,” Klauer said.
“And we don’t know what kind of money we’re going to get from the state.”
Board member Jim Adams and Superintendent Louise Johnson were not present at Wednesday’s meeting, leaving votes to be approved by a four-person board. Special Education District Secretary Judy Herrera spoke up against granting extensions for the two employees.
“I think it’s a huge mistake to lock in for three years. We can’t do that,” Herrera said. “We should do things year by year because we don’t know what our needs will be a year from now, so I’m concerned with the buyout if we have to do the buyout. It doesn’t make us look good to the public.”
Board President Katy Schwarz, though, said that when the contracts were previously brought up in session to the board, none of the trustees asked to rework them or eliminate them from the budget.
“It had to be done 45 days before the June 30 deadline in order to terminate any contract, by law,” Schwarz said.
“But when the contracts were brought to the board, nothing was done at that time.”
Klauer, though, argued that the previous contracts for both employees, which ran from 2011 to 2014, were not previously voted on, either.
Donna Pencik, administrative assistant to the superintendent, confirmed that Klauer was correct and that the previous contracts were not brought up to the board for a vote, and therefore rolled over automatically.
The board voted separately on both contracts, which would extend both district employees through the 2017 school year. Klauer opposed both contracts while Schwarz and board member Richard Baker voted to approve them. In an odd split, board member Georgie Coulter opposed Dellis’ extension and approved Suenram’s, leaving Dellis in limbo and Suenram extended.
Following the meeting, Suenram, Dellis and Schwarz had no comments on the contract disagreement, and Coulter and Baker could not be reached for comment. Klauer said that Dellis’ contract would likely have to be renegotiated due to the lack of consensus.
Ancillary to the contract dispute, on May 28, the Nevada County grand jury found that the NJUHSD board was not in compliance with state regulated training codes.
In the report, the county stated that it received a complaint from a citizen about the school district.
Klauer would not speak at length about the report but said he was disappointed that more was not done by the county and admitted that he was the citizen mentioned in the report who filed the complaint against the very board he serves on.
Three members of the board, including Klauer, Baker and Coulter, are up for re-election in November.
Update: Board member Richard Baker has previously said he will not run for re-election in November.
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.