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SJSD Board Member Sounds Off About Stipends

At its regular meeting, Board of Education member Chris Danford scolded fellow members and Superintendent Dr. Fred Czerwonka about a stipend policy for chief administrators in the school district.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A St. Joseph School District Board of Education member lashed out at fellow members and Superintendent Dr. Fred Czerwonka during a board meeting on Monday.

Before approving a salary schedule for educators for next year, Chris Danford expressed her disappointment over a recently uncovered stipend plan for chief administrators.

"I'm disappointed, I'm disgusted, I'm frustrated," she told KQ2 after the salary plan. "It's anger, but it's more 'I can't believe this has been going on.'"

Danford says perhaps even a state audit of the school district might be necessary to sort it all out.

The salary plan includes a roughly two percent increase for staff. Also included was an extra duty salary schedule that included stipends for various positions, including athletic coaches and other group club sponsors.

Danford was not happy about the stipends for the Superintendent's Council, a collection of chief administrators who work primarily in the school district offices.

"I still don't know what Superintendent's Council does that earns them $9,000 for the stipend, $5,000 for travel and $2,900 for night duty," Danford said.

Danford says some administrators make as much as $35,000 extra per year in stipends on top of their salaries.

She says the stipend policy circumvents procedures for both the local board as well as State Board of Education.

"This is something that's been going on for years that the board has not been aware of," Danford said.

The release of a full salary schedule booklet is new this year.

Danford's discontent with what she's seen in the booklet led her to be the only 'no' vote on the teacher's pay schedule for next year.

"I'm not for sure how many teachers are on that salary schedule," she said. "Are the teachers on the place where they should because they're at 13 years and have a Masters or have we also provided favors for teachers that they could move up in various ways? Who would know?

Board of Education President Dan Colgan agrees for the need of transparancy. He says the stipends are part of the overall compensation packages for some administrators.

He says the salary booklet was meant to share this information publicly.

Meanwhile, Danford says she's just doing her job as a board member by bringing up her concerns.

"It's not that I mistrust, but I'm close to that," she said. "Trust, but verify. You're going to have to show because I have to answer to the taxpayers."

Danford has been a board member for two years.

Superintendent Dr. Fred Czerwonka did not return our calls, nor did any other official spokesperson for the school district.
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