To give credit where credit is due, the SAU Board is to be congratulated for striving to retain Dr. Metzler, but they have gone overboard. Taxpayers should take note because the superintendent’s new contract has given away a bargaining chip that a more prudent board would have kept firmly in the district’s purse.
This year the SAU Board was tasked with a “performance and merit review” for the superintendent. In hindsight I now understand that to mean consideration for a performance bonus and a raise. That’s all the board was required to do. Instead, the board extended the superintendent’s contract by three years and increased his benefits along with rewarding his performance with a 3.24% raise and a 4% bonus. (4% was the maximum bonus allowable under the contract.) Dr. Metzler’s work this past year certainly merits a bonus and a raise, as the board clearly recognizes; however, the board unnecessarily sweetened the benefits pot and that’s where I take issue.
The Superintendent’s benefits package was enhanced as follows:
- OLD — Forfeit of unused vacation days in excess of 10 NOW — can accumulate 40 days
- OLD — 85% paid medical plan NOW — 90%
- OLD — 75% paid dental plan NOW — 90%
Although the money is not consequential, this will, I fear, have far reaching consequences when it comes time to again negotiate the teachers’ contract. This signals to all parties that the board is willing to shoulder more of the cost of benefits – precisely the wrong message to be sending to unions and a nightmare to taxpayers who shouldn’t need to be reminded that New Hampshire has one of the highest unfunded public pension liabilities in the country. What credibility will Dr. Metzler have asking teachers to reduce their benefits when he himself has seen his own benefits increased? Brace yourselves taxpayers. This indicates to me benefit costs aren’t likely to be more fairly borne by district employees any time soon and you have your own elected officials to blame.