The Nampa School Board approved a new contract for its controversial Board Clerk Krissy LaMont Tuesday night, potentially bringing an end to what have been drawn-out and tumultuous negotiations over her pay.
LaMont would make an estimated $50,000 per year according to the contract, which the board approved 3-1 (pending legal review and a few minor changes) at its regular board meeting. Trustee Mandy Simpson cast the dissenting vote and Trustee Tracey Pearson was absent.
The decision came after more than a year of contention over LaMont, stemming from her requests for higher pay, her criminal background, and a scathing rebuke of LaMont from her former employer and education influencer Karen Echeverria.
At the meeting, LaMont described being “under personal attack” and having concerns about her safety and urged the board to make a decision on the contract so she could put the troubling chapter behind her and stop “being a target.”
-LaMont will be paid $4,166 per month, or $49,992 annually (at one time she was seeking to be paid $72,000)
-LaMont and the Board must give each other 90 days notice if either party decides to terminate the contract
-The contract does not offer PERSI, health insurance, or a 20% pay increase in lieu of those benefits, which LaMont had previously sought (and which sparked controversy). “I’m giving a huge gift to the Nampa School District (after) the abuse I’ve been put under,” LaMont said on Tuesday.
Before the board decision, a half dozen community members spoke in opposition to the new contract, and were primarily concerned with:
- LaMont making as much as, or more than, some teachers — who might have more experience and/or education
- Whether that money could be better spent elsewhere, and whether her work as board clerk benefits students
- A perceived lack of transparency/accountability on the board’s part, especially because the contract that was in question wasn’t made publicly available until Tuesday morning
“Every additional dollar paid to Miss LaMont is one less dollar given to our schools to help educate our students,” said Susan Butkus, a teacher at Nampa’s South Middle School.
She was one of three Nampa teachers to speak in opposition to the contract.
Before the public comment period, Nampa Education Association President Brian Coffey presented to the board about a series of issues facing teachers — such as insufficient staffing and extreme student behavior — and criticized LaMont’s proposed pay of $50,000 a year.
“I can tell you that would be the envy of many a teacher in your school district,” Coffey said.
He said teachers in the district are “at their breaking point” and is worried about a “mass exodus of staff” at the end of the school year. Seeing a board clerk paid more than them would not be good for morale, he said.
One community member, Isaac Brewer, spoke in favor of the contract and LaMont.
Trustees defend LaMont and her new contract
During discussion, trustees each said that LaMont was worth the proposed $50,000 in pay for the services she provides the board.
“The value of a person is not necessarily the title that’s been given,” Trustee Marco Valle said.
While a board clerk position doesn’t require a degree like a teacher or school nurse, LaMont brings invaluable experience and knowledge to the job, Valle said.
But Valle also acknowledged that teacher’s pay doesn’t show respect for their work and said that the average teacher pay in Nampa — about $54,000 — is not a livable wage.
“It speaks volumes to what we need to do for our teachers,” Valle said.
But Valle said the issue of teacher pay is separate from the issue of LaMont’s pay and will need to be tackled “in different ways.”
Several trustees argued that paying LaMont $50,000 each year would save them money in the long run, because she can help the board avoid costly mistakes and make more informed choices.
“Fiscal responsibility is not always spending the least amount of money on everything that we can,” Trustee Jeff Kirkman said.
Board Chair Brook Taylor said she had read and listened to feedback, including many emails and testimonials, but one in particular stood out to her — an email from former trustee Mike Fuller that backed LaMont and the board clerk position. Taylor read the email aloud at the meeting.
In many school districts, the board clerk is a district employee who also works as an assistant to the superintendent. LaMont’s position is unique in that she works only for the board and is a contracted employee. Because of that, questions over potential benefits and pay have been more complicated.
But, citing Fuller’s email, Taylor advocated for the need for a clerk who doesn’t “serve two masters” — the district/superintendent and the board, entities which can at times have competing interests.
Simpson expressed her gratitude and appreciation for LaMont, but said she would vote against the contract.
“I’m listening to the constituents and what they’re saying about the message that it sends to employees,” Simpson said.
The board’s approval of the contract is pending legal consent and a few minor changes, including:
- An added requirement that LaMont provide detailed itemization of how she spent her time during each billing period
- Clarification about LaMont’s legal representation as an independent contractor
The timeline below provides a chronology of the Nampa School Board’s controversial history with Board Clerk Krissy LaMont.
- 2021: Lamont parts ways with the Idaho School Boards Association after spending nearly eight years there as a board trainer and director of leadership development and member services.
- Oct. 21: LaMont pleads guilty to a misdemeanor DUI.
- Jan. 22: LaMont is hired to replace Nampa clerk Tammy Wallen. Trustees set LaMont’s hourly rate at $18.75, with the intent to negotiate a contract at a later date. The board hired her on a 4-1 vote just minutes after three new trustees were sworn in. The job was not posted for others to apply, sparking concern from the board’s most senior trustee at the time, Mandy Simpson, who opposed LaMont’s nomination.
- Feb. 17, 2022: Trustees consider paying LaMont 72,000 a year for part-time work
- Feb. 25, 22: Former ISBA executive director Karen Echeverria sends a scathing email to Nampa trustees, saying she would not recommend her former employee, LaMont, for the clerk position.
- Feb. 28, 22: Trustees do not vote on LaMont’s proposed contract and instead agree unanimously to have board chair Jeff Kirkman negotiate the terms of a new contract.
- April to Aug. 2022: LaMont bills the district for $14,465.63 worth of work, according to invoices EdNews received from the district via a public records request. LaMont’s pay dwarfs the $3,272 Wallen’s rate of pay would have secured over the same time period.
- Oct. 6, 22: LaMont is arrested and charged for misdemeanor failure to appear in connection to a petit theft charge
- Jan. 23: Trustees vote unanimously to appoint LaMont as board clerk and to have the board chair work with LaMont on negotiating and finalizing a new contract agreement. They determine to have the board vote on the contract within 60 days.
- Feb. 23: Board votes 3-1 to approve LaMont’s new contract, pending legal review and some slight alterations.