Dr. Mervilde is currently paid an annual salary of $171,600 under a contract that is set to expire on June 30, 2010. Mervilde exercised his right to renegotiate his current 3-year contract prior to its expiration. He is seeking an increase of 7% in his annual salary through June 30, 2011, taking it to $183,500. The biggest change, however, is in a proposed revision that will require taxpayers to purchase four years of credit time for Mervilde in the state teachers retirement system at a cost of $31,000 per year, or $124,000.
I'm told that this has become a common negotiating strategy for superintendents like Mervilde who are nearing retirement age to ask a school district to purchase credit time for purposes of calculating their retirement benefit. In lieu of a larger salary increase, the additional credit time the school district purchases on the school district official's behalf ensures a much higher retirement benefit for the employee. The school official is not taxed on the credit time purchase, enhancing its value to him or her greatly. These benefits are often not explained to the public to allow them to properly evaluate how much school officials are being paid.
School board member Greg Wright believes the nearly $200,000 salary and benefits increase for Mervilde is too costly. “These are tough economic times for many in our community," Wright said. " Increasing any municipal employee’s employment contract by hundreds of thousands of dollars is simply outrageous.”
UPDATE: If you think this deal is bad, take a look at the deal the Greater Clark County schools gave to Stephen Daeschner, the superintendent who replaced Tony Bennett, Indiana's State Superintendent of Education. Although the school board had a budget of $150,000 for the position, the school board thought the 67-year-old Daeschner was worth $225,000 a year, plus an additional $1,500 a month to sell his home to relocate, family health insurance benefits and more according to the Jeffersonville News and Tribune. The school board's attorney advised the school system it could simply seek private donations to find the money the school hadn't budgeted for the position.
"Larry Wilder, attorney for the school board, said that though details are still being worked out, people should be able to donate to the school corporation directly and anonymously if they want, or to a given foundation that would forward that money on to Greater Clark with their name available publicly, which would allow the donor to use it as a tax write off," the News and Tribune reported. Yes, that's the same Larry Wilder, counsel to the Jeffersonville council, who was found in his neighbor's garbage can last week after a night on the town. Can you imagine the potential conflicts if wealthy parents made specific donations to cover his salary? I suppose that never occurred to Wilder