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Iowa City school board approves Murley contract

BY LAUREN COFFEY | DECEMBER 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa City School Board members voted to approve Superintendent Steve Murley’s contract, despite protest from some members of the community.

The board voted 5-1 in favor of the contract, which is set to expire in June 2013. Board member Patti Fields voted no, and board member Tuyet Durau was not present.

Murley’s newly approved salary is $192,000, according to board documents.

The board overall was happy with the decision, yet many of the community members did not have similar sentiments.

Three members from the community spoke on different issues they believed lay in Murley’s contract.

Community member Phil Hemingway described his concern dealing with what he called the “hidden” extra pay Murley has received for various items, such as having the district pay for his graduate schooling as well as giving him $7,000 for gas money in his first year with the district.

“When you hide $7,000 in the vehicle allotment, so it can look less than it is, $220,000 plus [funds], plus, plus,” Hemingway said. “… Take some of the fluff and put it in the base salary and that’s what it is.”

Julie Van Dyke, another member of the community, shared her concerns with a clause in the contract concerning board members having to report to Murley regarding concerns from the community.

“What about confidential concerns?” she said. “What if it’s about [Murley]? This is unacceptable that the board members have to report anything substantive. It puts him in an issue of absolute power. Do not put the fox in charge of the hen house.”

Jim Tate, a third community member, spoke about his concern with Murley not having to pay for insurance.

Most of the six board members present at the meeting disagreed with the community’s comments, saying the contract is a “give and take” to achieve compromise.

“There are things in this contract the board members don’t like; there are probably things the superintendent doesn’t like,” board member Sarah Swisher said. “I don’t think things are perfect. I recognize the community’s input is important, but we’re going for negotiation.”

Fields disagreed with her fellow board members. Her concerns regarded the amount of vacation time Murley was allotted in his contract — 41 days of paid vacation for Murley. She said the district incorrectly recorded that Murley did not use any of the 30 vacation days for the 2011-2012 school year. She believed he used eight days.

“We need to make sure we’re doing the right thing for the kids and the taxpayers,” she said. “To push [the superintendent contract] forward is not the right thing to do.”

Murley disagreed with all the complaints from the community.

“Most of the same language is the same, [from the previous contract],” he said. “I think the contract is comparable to other superintendents within Iowa.”


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