A salary change for the superintendent of Crothersville Community School Corp. recently was approved by a narrow margin.
Based on a change in state law, Terry Goodin’s contract needed to be changed from an old style to a new one.
That would result in his salary going from $134,387 to $135,487 effective July 1 of this year to June 30, 2019. Then for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, the contract would be increased the same as the average of the teachers’ raise for each of those school years, and the proposed contract would include a benefits package of $48,975.
Trustee Ralph Hillenburg made the motion to approve the contract, and when there was a pause after asking for a second, board President Robert Spicer seconded. Then Trustee B.J. McLain gave the third yes vote to approve the contract. Trustees Linda Luedeman and Dale Schmelzle voted against the contract
Before the vote, Luedeman read a statement about the contract proposal.
She said Goodin’s proposal to increase his base salary each year for the remainder of the life of his contract would make his daily rate a little more than $677 per day. She said he also proposed to work 10 less days each year, going from 210 to 200.
“Our teachers are expected to work 185 contracted days,” Luedeman said. “This makes our superintendent contract only 15 more days than a teacher’s contract.”
With paid vacation and holiday leave, she said Goodin proposed the board allow him to accumulate up to 150 unused vacation days, and upon retirement, he would be paid his daily rate for each of those possible 150 days.
“If that was to happen now, that was for unused vacation days alone, we would be paying over $100,000 just for that,” Luedeman said. “That’s based on the proposed new base. It will go up each year, making his daily rate greater if we go ahead and vote it in tonight.”
Goodin also asked the board to increase his life insurance. Luedeman said he already is provided a $100,000 policy for which he only has to pay $1 per year.
“He’s now requesting that we give him $10,000 annually, and this would be for Dr. Goodin to purchase an additional life insurance policy of his choice. He would still only pay $1,” she said.
Finally, Goodin requested contributing additional money to his 403K and 401K. He currently gets a 10.5 percent contribution, and that would increase to 12.5 percent of his salary each year.
“Our certified staff is growing smaller, several of our classes are being instructed by noncertified staff and they are working hard and trying to meet the needs of the students,” Luedeman said. “I believe we owe it to our system to take a deeper look at how this superintendent contract could be modified.”
Luedeman also asked why the board has never seen a written evaluation of the superintendent, especially since certified staff members are evaluated on a yearly basis to determine if they receive a pay increase.
Spicer said this is the last year of the current contract and evaluations weren’t required, but it’s now state law and will be required with the new contract.
Another concern for Luedeman was how the state-mandated public hearing on the contract earlier this month was handled.
“After speaking with different audience members later on, I was saddened that the consensus was that their presence and any possible questions weren’t valued by us. Our community deserves transparency and value,” she said.
“I composed this statement in hopes we could just take a timeout and take a harder look before we collectively vote on this contract,” she said. “Just the optics of trying to push this through, it just doesn’t look good to me. We’ll have new elected board members who will be coming on board that I’m sure would like to study this, and I ask that maybe we listen to our community and study any raises that may be proposed.”
The board then went through a vote and adjourned before taking questions from the public.
Tiffany Reynolds, who was elected to the school board in the Nov. 6 general election and will start her term in January, said she was concerned with some of the things she learned about the contract.
“We talk a lot about finances and that we don’t have enough money to hire teachers and to do certain things,” she said. “I know that Dr. Goodin, you’ve been here for a very long time and you’ve done a lot of really great things for our school, but from a financial standpoint, if we’re hurting, why are we increasing and why are we doing all of these extra things that we’re going to have to be paying out of pocket if you leave?”
Spicer said when he joined the board 20 years ago, the corporation was holding claims because it didn’t have money to pay for them, and making payroll was the priority.
“If we were ever going to lose our school, we were teetering on the edge at that time,” Spicer said, noting the board went through a lengthy process to hire a superintendent who could turn things around.
The board hired Goodin, and Spicer said the corporation has gone through many changes since then to allow it to thrive.
“We are not worried about losing our school today. It’s not going to happen,” Spicer said.
A change in political parties in the Statehouse resulted in a different perspective on public schools, and no school is run like it was 20 years ago, Spicer said. Small schools survive only through innovation, and that has been Goodin’s focus, Spicer said.
“Terry has never thought one year out. Terry has never even thought five years out,” Spicer said. “Terry always thinks 10 years out and beyond.”
Spicer said previous superintendents only looked at the next budget because they didn’t plan on staying around very long, but when Goodin was interviewed, he said he planned to be there until he retired.
Goodin has kept his word.
“The guy threw me for a loop,” Spicer said, smiling. “He has lasted longer than I am, and I appreciate that, and I know what he has done. He deserves what a 20-year superintendent makes. He has all of the responsibilities of every other superintendent in the state of Indiana without assistance. It’s a one-man show. He doesn’t have assistance. He is responsible for all of it.
“So is it a lot of money? Yeah, it’s a lot of money,” he said of the proposed contract. “Would I like to make it? Sure, I would. I wouldn’t take that on. It does take a special person to be a superintendent and to be an effective superintendent, and he has done us well.”
Since she will be sitting alongside McLain on the board, Reynolds asked him why he voted yes for the contract.
“I’ve only been here a couple of years, and I have seen what Terry has done,” McLain said. “I thought that $1,100 was adequate for what he has done after 20 years of being here.”
Goodin said 10 years ago, the corporation received $4.1 million in general fund money. This year, it was $2.8 million.
The direction of education also has changed in that time frame, and Crothersville is ahead of the curve with its programming, Goodin said.
The Austin Crothersville Early College Initiative allows students to take college-level classes and earn an associate degree in general studies from Ivy Tech Community College before they graduate from high school.
In the past six years, 47 Crothersville students have received degrees. By doing so, they spend a year or two less and save tens of thousands of dollars in earning a higher college degree.
Crothersville students also can take vocational classes and earn national certifications at C4 Columbus Area Career Connection, which has been available for more than 40 years, Goodin said.
“That’s real dollars, and that’s real impact to a community,” he said. “If we weren’t doing what we’re doing with partnering, we would have no early college program, we would have no vocational programming.”
The corporation also has gone away from offering general education diplomas and now has students on graduation pathways.
The best part of it all, Goodin said, is that no matter where students are taking classes, they can play sports for the Crothersville Tigers and receive a Crothersville High School diploma.
“What we’re doing is future education,” he said. “We can either be dinosaurs and become extinct or we can continue to be progressive and try to make sure we stay ahead of the curve and make sure we keep a school in Crothersville.”
Goodin said other southern Indiana school corporations are sending their students to other places for classes and internships to help them postgraduation.
“The face of education is what Crothersville Community Schools looks like, and we’re one of seven school corporations in the state of Indiana that has been recognized as being a progressive school corporation in the way they want the rest of the school corporations to look like,” he said.
A school corporation’s state funding is based on enrollment, and Goodin said administrators will continue to look at programming that’s going to attract kids and keep them at Crothersville.
It’s also key to promote what the corporation offers, including the early college program and vocational programming, he said.
“Every single kid that walks out of these doors right now, they can do anything they want to do in this world because you know why? They can say, ‘I went to Crothersville, and that’s why I can do it,’” Goodin said.