NAMPA — Nampa School District trustees unanimously agreed Monday night to tap board chair Jeff Kirkman to lead contract negotiations with their clerk Krissy LaMont.
LaMont’s request to be paid $50 an hour for 30 hours a week — or at least $72,000 a year — drew heated debate among trustees, patrons and teachers, who average about $50,000 a year. Last year’s board clerk was paid just under $9,000.
LaMont’s proposed independent contract also asked she receive $100 an hour if more work is required beyond 30 hours a week, equipment, supplies, office space in the district office, professional development, bond and reimbursement for expenses. Click here to see the proposal.
Kirkman said the proposed pay rate seemed “a little bit high.” The full board will consider a contract negotiated between Kirkman and LaMont.
“If funding was different, yes, let’s pay every single person what they deserve,” senior trustee Mandy Simpson said. “It’s really hard for me … to go from just under $9,000 to a $72,000 contract.”
The board also unanimously approved LaMont receiving $18.75 hourly back pay for work since her Jan. 18 hiring. The pay rate can be adjusted depending on contract negotiations, per the approved action.
Trustees wrangled with LaMont’s pay and the pay of its interim superintendent, Gregg Russell, a week ahead of asking voters to approve a two-year, $16 million supplemental levy to support school operations.
Paula Kellerer abruptly resigned last month after five years as Nampa’s superintendent. Russell was named interim superintendent days later.
Monday’s debate over LaMont’s contract was often heated. Several people from a crowd of around 50, including two self-identified former trustees and a former interim superintendent, testified against aspects of the contract and its proposed pay rate. Some attendees praised and thanked trustees for their service. Two audience members interrupted the meeting during discussions about LaMont’s contract.
Trustee Brook Taylor presented information rebutting and clarifying information presented in media reports, including Idaho Education News. She said a Friday article, by EdNews, about recommendation letters contained “misinformation.”
“You never know what the media will pick and choose to cover, and you never know what the narrative will be or the due diligence. ‘I’m going to press in one hour.’ We’re really seeing the effects of that,” Taylor said.
Taylor said LaMont’s status as an independent contractor exposes her to more cost on the back end — paying for taxes and benefits like health insurance. She also said comparing LaMont to other district employees at their compensation rate does not account for their full cost to the district. For instance, the average Nampa teacher earns around $50,000 annually, but their full costs to the district come out to $68,411, she said.
Taylor estimated last year’s clerk cost the district $72,000. But the former clerk, Tammy Wallen, was working two jobs. She is paid $53,900 for her full-time job as the assistant superintendent, received benefits like health insurance, and was given a $8,637 stipend last year for working an extra 10 hours a week as the board’s clerk. Wallen’s in-pocket pay totaled $62,597.
Taylor said the documents from her presentation will be made public after the meeting.
Kirkman twice mentioned the idea of naming LaMont interim clerk and posting the job for a search. He said the proposed move was to address perceptions, but it did not gain steam with other trustees. The board hired LaMont shortly after three new school board members were sworn in at a January meeting — without posting the job.
Simpson created the $18.75 hourly rate for LaMont’s back pay based on estimates about the previous board clerk’s pay.
Kirkman said the district would provide a district laptop and phone to LaMont, which he said trustees are newly receiving this year. “For anyone who works for a company, you get the items needed to perform your job.”
Taylor said she found out about the previous clerk’s resignation the day before the January meeting. LaMont said she was there to tell the board about training opportunities. She is a certified board trainer through the state, allowing school boards to seek reimbursements for her leading professional development.
The district could pay LaMont to administer trainings as part of her contracted work, LaMont said, using a pool of $6,600 that boards are allocated.
Other board business
Trustees voted unanimously to increase Russell’s pay to match former superintendent Kellerer’s pay, at nearly $153,000. The increase of roughly $16,000 annually is effective Feb. 7, when Russell began as interim superintendent. Russell will serve as interim superintendent at least until his contract ends June 30, 2023, the board agreed.
Board vice chair Tracey Pearson questioned the board’s payment of Idaho School Boards Association members dues, which total around $20,000 annually but reward a nearly $10,000 insurance rebate. “What are we getting for the dues that we’re paying them?” Pearson said. “… I feel like we’re getting more training from Krissy and I feel more trusted in receiving training from her than … from ISBA.”
The board also scheduled interviews for the evening of March 7 with three people who applied to fill a vacancy left behind by former Zone 2 trustee Mike Kipp’s resignation. The candidates are:
- Lonnie Dawson, a bus driver and former Amazon packager and federal worker who served on a school board in Washington state.
- Marco Valle, caretaker of his disabled son and former vice president of operation at the Idaho Foodbank and former warehouse and facilities manager at the Utah Food Bank.
- Aaron James Kallas, an education account manager at Bio-Rad Laboratories, who has also directed the Southern Utah Museum of Natural History and taught college courses.