February 14, 2016

Kings, kingmakers live among us at USD 231

The new superintendent’s contract between Bill Gillhaus and the current USD 231 board of education poses more questions than answers. It’s not exactly riveting reading, but it should be a must-read for taxpayers who foot the bill in the district.
Ostensibly written to take advantage of a state statute that defines KPER’s (public pension) contributions, at first glance the document seems routine; after a two month “retirement” Gilhaus is rehired by the district at a lower base salary, and the contract is extended thru 2016.
But as with many contracts, the devil is in the details.
Although Gilhaus’ base salary does decrease for now, it’s only as long as the current statute is not repealed or amended; Gilhaus keeps his $34,000 annuity; $800 per month automobile allowance; health insurance difference allowance; 60 plus 12 vacation and 20 days sick leave. A $100 per month mobile phone allowance was added along with several sections including post-termination benefits.
The document also seems to stray from a simple employment agreement into policy when the current board, with three outgoing members, hamstrings newly elected officials who will take seat in July.
Effectively, it allows Gilhaus to refuse information requests from elected officials by notifying the BOE in closed-door session. This could render the voters’ representatives ineffective, and because the decision was made behind closed doors, the taxpayers would never know.
For shame on the current BOE for setting themselves up as kingmakers and allowing this travesty that circumvents our very democratic process.
While we have veterans fighting for our freedoms, we have a BOE that signs our democratic process away with nary a thought.
The contract also has a clause that holds Gilhaus harmless for any decisions made, and another clause that regards conviction of a crime involving fraud or moral turpitude and how long the district must continue making contributions to his account.
While we’re certainly not the $250 per hour law firm the BOE employs to ostensibly protect the taxpayers’ interests; we all the know scent of a skunk when we smell it.

The complete contract is  here.


  1. ThePatriot says:

    Gardner News claims, “Effectively, it allows Mr. Gilhaus to refuse information requests from elected officials by notifying the BOE in closed-door session”

    It does no such thing. On page 1 of contract you provided, it clearly says the Superintendent “is responsible to the total Board and shall act accordingly to majority direction from the Board.” It simply means other requests from individual members but not agreed to by the majority will be responded as long as it does not materially impair doing the job.

    Gardner News wrote, “. . . 60 plus 12 vacation and 20 days sick leave.” What does this mean? The contract says 20 days of vacation and 12 days of regular sick leave which can accumulate up to 60 days. The contract says, “In no event shall the Superintendent be paid for any unused days of accumulated sick leave.”

    I know this paper is not interested in objective journalism as it continues its crusade against USD 231; but, if you were, it would have been demonstrated by comparing this contract with other contracts from comparable school districts. That would have been informative and educational. Apparently, that would require more effort than this paper is willing to make.

  2. To ThePatriot,
    I invite you to reread Dr Gilhaus contract. You can spin the facts just so much.

    You state “The contract says 20 days of vacation and 12 days of regular sick leave which can accumulate up to 60 days. The contract says, “In no event shall the Superintendent be paid for any unused days of accumulated sick leave.”

    The statement you are quoting is referring to sick leave is “…in the event [of] a nonrenewal…” Earlier in the contract it states that “the superintendent shall be paid at his daily rate for each day of unused regular sick leave during the current contract year up to 12 days. Payment for regular unused sick leave will be made within 60 days of the end of the contract year.”

    His contract also states that “Upon the commencement of the Term the superintendent shall be provided 60 days of accumulated sickleave, inlieu of the Board purchasing a short term disability policy….” This means he will get 60 days of sickleave right at the beginning of his Term to have in reserve sitting there in case he needs it AND on top of that he gets 12 sick leave days/yr.

    It is inportant to note here that the teachers only get 10days of sick leave/per year and they can cash in only 10 days of unused sickleave for 1/2 of what the district would have to pay a substitute to replace them. Dr Gilhaus gets to cash in unused sick leave at his daily rate –FULL salary daily rate.

    How the language on policy in Dr Gilhaus’s new contract is interpreted depends on your point of view AND consideration of everything that has happened with in the last few months since the BOE elections. I think with the recent major School Board policies overhaul and the wording put in this contract, it appears that Dr Gilhaus is preparing for a divided BOE and expects that there will soon be BOE members that will not simply vote to give him the control he has been accustom to with his current board. I, for one, am looking forward to the change.

  3. ThePatriot says:

    The only way he can get paid for those 60 days of sick leave is to be sick for 60 days during the term of the contract. There is no cash payment for unused “accumulated” sick leave. I am happy to be proven wrong.

    My real point is the whole article has no depth. On what basis is this contract unusual? On what basis does Dr. Gilhaus deserve or not deserve the salary and benefits bestowed on him by our elected board members? He may not be deserving, but there is nothing factual about any critique made in this opinion. It goes even further by making a baseless characterization which I already highlighted in my previous comment.

    There are informed opinions that are demonstrably supported by facts. There are baseless opinions where no attempt is made to substantiate them or false characterizations are used. The only ones I have ever seen from this paper are baseless opinions.

  4. I can’t believe this contract is legal or that a lawyer wrote it. I know some of our old time board members, and this should never have been allowed to happen. Shame on you.

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