C-L approves contract extension for superintendent

By Brett Kriebel

CLARION NEWS Writer

STRATTANVILLE

The Clarion-Limestone school board Nov. 20 voted to extend the appointment of Amy J. Glasl as superintendent of the district until June 2023.

But it didn't happen without some debate.

Preceding the vote was the meeting's public comment period, which board president Molly Greenawalt used to address questions she said members of the board and public may have about the process of offering the new contract to Glasl.

Greenawalt said board members had been provided standard evaluation forms to fill out in August. The forms focused on the superintendent position's major expectations and included areas where board members could write suggestions, comments, etc.

The board was scheduled to convene during its September meeting to discuss the evaluations as a whole, but the meeting was canceled.

Still, Greenawalt said the information from received evaluations indicated Glasl ranked either proficient or distinguished in each evaluation category. Greenawalt noted an announced executive session via email Nov. 5 between the board dealt with seeking input in the drafting of the language, length of time, and salary of a new contract.

From the information gathered, a draft contract was created and provided to the board Nov. 11, which was also announced as an executive session via email.

Greenawalt noted she had recently received a phone call about the input of the district's incoming board members regarding the contract. Greenawalt said she spoke to Pennsylvania School Boards Association member services manager Jim Summerville about the issue, asking if the current board had an obligation to incoming board members.

"His response to me was that we did not," Greenawalt said. "They were not seated yet and we are a board that resides in office for a term and even though this is our last meeting, there could be a point of business between now and Dec. 4 that would have to be addressed. That being the case, it would be this board that is seated here right now that would address that, so the same applies for when we're looking at contracts."

Greenawalt noted the board considered the proposed five year contract term and compared it to previous CL superintendent contracts. Five previous district superintendents were given five-year contracts, with the exception of Ted Pappas, who was given four years and Glasl's first contract, which was for three years.

Greenawalt noted she was aware the draft of the contract had been circulated among the public.

"While a voted upon contract is certainly a public document and can be made available to anybody, when you're in a draft phase, it can lead to a lot of questions, comments and some undermining," Greenawalt said.

Greenawalt said the board had always been careful about staying transparent. She noted moving forward with a contract for Glasl offered the district continuity.

Nathaniel Parker, an incoming elected board member, said he had concerns about the current board offering the contract a month before the new board would take office.

Parker said he met with Glasl Nov. 8. He stated Glasl told him her contracted could be extended for one year, which could conceivably give the new board members adequate time to evaluate her performance. Parker said he supported the idea.

Glasl's contract was set to expire June 30, 2020. Pennsylvania law dictates school boards must notify superintendents whether or not they intend to retain the individual in that position at least ninety days prior to the expiration date of the term of the contract. In Glasl's case, that would set a deadline of a retention decision at April 1, 2020.

"There's a bunch of more meetings to do it so there's absolutely no urgency to do this now," Parker said of the contract being offered. "There's no legal requirement to do it now."

Parker also brought up concerns he had about the new contract supposedly requiring the district to pay for Glasl's medical insurance for as long as she lives.

Greenawalt and district solicitor Peter Halesey said the contract does not provide insurance for life. Instead, it is the same post-retirement healthcare incentive provided to teachers and support staff personnel.

"I guess the bottom line is, this is clearly a political move and the new contract is designed to insulate this position from the new board," said Parker. He added he felt the right thing to do would be to let incoming board members make a decision on the contract after getting time to know Glasl, rather than a vote being made by outgoing board members during their last meeting.

A question of how the draft contract had been circulated publicly was broached. Board member Jamie Mahle said a member of the public had notified him of the contract details, because the draft had been posted on Facebook.

Another incoming board member, Dave Eggleton, said he was thankful the current board had taken care of the contracts for the support staff, Glasl, and a supervisor of buildings and grounds.

"I can't do the same evaluation in five months that you folks can do in two years," Eggleton said.

Incoming board elect Rebecca Allison also spoke, saying she had compiled data from various people throughout the district leading to what she felt was an accurate characterization of district wide sentiment.

"Our current school board has been overshadowed by controversy," Allison said. "Members have been plagued by poor communication, self-serving agendas, personal vendettas and backstabbing."

Allison continued, noting she felt the board was "continuing this trend of manipulation and strong arming by proposing this eleventh hour contract extension for our district superintendent." Allison implored the current board to allow the incoming board members to build a rapport with Glasl and to table the approval of a new contract for Glasl.

Mahle motioned to table the contract approval following the public comment period. He and board member Roger Powell cited their discomfort in making the decision without having filled out their evaluation forms.

Powell said he had not turned in his evaluation, whereas the rest of the board with the exception of Mahle had, because Greenawalt told him the board would meet to discuss the evaluations together.

Greenawalt responded, reiterating the discussion was meant to take place during the cancelled September meeting. Greenawalt added she brought up an idea of the board gathering with Glasl hours before the November session began for discussion of the evaluations, but no one on the board had responded.

A motion to table the voting for approval of the contract failed, with yes votes from Powell and Mahle and no votes from the rest of the board.

Board member Lee Stewart then made a motion to amend the item to change the contract's length from five years to three, which board vice president Terry Leadbetter seconded.

All board members with the exception of Mahle, Greenawalt and Powell voted for the amendment, with Mahle having abstained from voting.

Ultimately, a 7-1 vote passed for the approval of a three year contract with, Powell voting no and Mahle abstaining.

The new contract is effective July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023.

The reorganization meeting and voting meeting for any other business to come before the board is set for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4 in the high school cafeteria.

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