The Noblesville School Board has approved a 6 percent pay raise for Noblesville Schools Superintendent Dr. Libbie Conner and placed the district in a favorable position if she decides to retire early.
During its Feb. 18 meeting, the school board discussed two major provisions to Conner’s contract – a salary base increase and retirement incentive. Conner’s current contract expires June 30, 2015.
The 6 percent increase brings Conner’s annual salary to $166,632. With the increase, Assistant Superintendent Steve Stephanoff said Noblesville is still behind other neighboring school corporations as Carmel Clay’s superintendent, Dr. Nicholas Wahl, at $195,000; Hamilton Southeastern Superintendent, Dr. Brian Smith, makes $170,000 with $40,000 in incentives; and the new Lawrence Township superintendent is being paid $175,000.
“Dr. Conner’s salary is in the ballpark but certainly lower than most,” he said.
Conner, a former principal at Noblesville Middle School, became superintendent in July 2009. Her contract was $150,000 at the time. Stephanoff said district administrators have received an 8 percent salary increase since 2011 while Conner’s pay has not increased. Stephanoff said Conner’s pay increased to $157,200 when the state board of accounts removed car usage for school administrators – a cost neutral move.
“Six percent is 1.2 percent a year (since she started),” School Board President Pat Berghoff. “Most people have received a raise in the last five years. She has not.”
A retirement incentive states that if Conner provides 90-days advanced written retirement notice for a retirement to be effective on or before Sept.15 and retires on or before that date, then she will be paid $25,000. The completion of her salary will be on the effective date of retirement.
Berghoff said state changes in pension compensation mean retirement proceeds will be less than they are now. He reiterated that Conner has made no announcement of retirement plans
“We want to get out in front should she decide to retire this year,” Berghoff said. “Because the changes to pension collection is so dramatic it becomes a distinct possibility. Is it eminent? No. If it does happen we want to get out in front of it.”
The amendments to Conner’s contract were passed 4-1 with school board member Gary Duvall casting the lone dissenting vote. Duvall said that while Conner and other administrators worked hard, so to do other Noblesville Schools teachers and staff.
“I can’t justify in my mind how we can give 6 percent and a $25,000 incentive,” he said.
Conner was ill and did not attend the meeting or comment on her contract.
A complete copy of the contract is available on the school district’s website, www.noblesvilleschools.org.
Land to retire
John Land, a longtime educator and leader in Noblesville Schools, will retire at the end of the school year. Land was principal at Conner Elementary for five years before being the only principal at Hazel Dell Elementary since it opened in 1989. Assistant Superintendent Steve Stephanoff said the district is only looking internally to fill the position. Officials plan to interview those interested in March before making a recommendation to the school board.
“We have a lot of good assistant principals and talent inside the school system,” School Board President Pat Berghoff said.