By SARAH LIPPS
For The Times
It's been a tough year for Clay Community Schools' incoming superintendent. Dan Schroeder comes to Clay County after a one-year-stint at South Putnam.
"I don't want to go into the particulars, but it has been a difficult year," Schroeder told the Greencastle BannerGraphic. "Any time you are dealing with financial difficulties in the school business, 85-90 percent of your budget is personnel. When you have to deal with a reduction in force and people's livelihoods, it is very difficult."
This spring, nine full-time teachers were issued reduction in force (RIF) notices and several more were issued part-time reductions. Also, school officials dealt with numerous concerns from local residents who faced heavy increases in property taxes.
However, it seems there may be more teacher-administration conflicts yet to come in Clay County.
Teachers spoke up in outrage over the administrator's new contract when details were announced at a recent Clay Community Schools board meeting.
"They keep telling us, 'We don't have any money, we don't have any money,' and then they vote (unanimously) to spend $650,000 on one man in the next five years," said Russ True, president of the Clay County Classroom Teacher's Association. "This is just going to add to the hard feelings and animosity that so many teachers are feeling right now. Dr. Schroeder's five-year contract package includes a salary of $110,000 per year, a $20,000 benefit package and a paid teacher's retirement plan."
The details of the contract are a "slap in the face for teachers, who, as of June 1, started their fourth year without a contract settlement," True said.
If there is one bright light that has come out of his year at South Putnam, Schroeder said, the school is now set on the right track financially and he expects several the teachers will be called back.
"If (South Putnam) stays the course, their structural deficit will be eliminated, at least for the foreseeable future," he said. "It is hard to see what the state might do in relation to new monies, but for now, the structural deficit will be eliminated."
Schroeder told the BannerGraphic details about his transition between the two corporations will have to be worked out with South Putnam school board members. His contract with Clay County Schools begins July 1.
At Clay Community Schools, he will be charged with overseeing Northview High School Clay City Jr.-Sr. High School, North Clay Middle School and seven elementary schools.
Schroeder has 11 years of school administration experience. Before coming to South Putnam, he served as superintendent in Hanover, Ind.