Superintendent James Mitchem will receive an almost $66,000 tuition reimbursement check following an amendment to his contract approved by the VVSD school board Monday night.
The $65,658 amount “represents the reasonable value of tuition reimbursement for the doctoral degree on an after-tax basis,” according to school board documents. Mitchem "shall be paid a bonus of $65,658 for the 2011‐2012 school year, payable on or before Aug. 1."
Campbell said she had received several e-mails regarding the matter, specifically questioning the move in light of Mitchem's statement that he would not accept additional money from the district until students' achievement improved.
Campbell recommended tabling a discussion, considering Mitchem was still on vacation and not present at the meeting to address the issue and answer questions raised by residents.
Campbell's motion to table the discussion received no support from her other school board members. "I still believe we should have had more discussion about this and he should have been present," Campbell said.
School Board Member Richard Gougis countered that it was an action taken by the school board, not Mitchem, and Mitchem did not need to explain the school board's actions.
"I don't understand why we need Mitchem to expain the action we're going to take," Gougis said.
School Board President Steven Quigley said the tuition reimbursement was part of the discussion for Mitchem's contract but the reimbursement "inadvertently got left out of the contract."
School Board Member Elizabeth Campbell questioned the timing of the amendment.
"I need to know why at this particular time," Campbell said. "He's held the position since the beginning of the school year. Why are we doing this now?"
Quigley said the "error" in Mitchem's contract was brought to his attention in June and because of scheduling, the amendment just ended up on the July agenda.
"I feel like we're obligated to do it," Quigley said. "There is no hidden agenda."
School Board Member Leo Venegas confirmed that the district sets aside $350,000 in its budget to reimburse higher education tuition for its teachers alone.
School Board Members Venegas, Quigley, Gougis and Ronnie Bull voted in favor of the contract amendment. Campbell abstained from voting. Board Members Jim Curran and Chrystal Hansen were absent from the meeting.
One woman addressed the board regarding the matter. Andrea Anderson, a parent and teacher for the district, thanked Campbell for attempting to table the discussion.
"It's a big discussion in our community," Anderson said. "It's more than my salary. Thank you for tabling something for our community."