Board approves new contract for Hess

Lebanon Community School District board members unanimously approved a new contract for the Supt. Rob Hess at their Feb. 8 meeting.

Hess told the board in January that he was interested in buying a house outside of the school district, although his contract required him to live within its boundaries.

He and Tonya Cairo married over the summer and now have a household of nine, he said.

Board Chair Tom Oliver worked with Hess and legal counsel on the new contract, Oliver said in a memo to the board.

The new contract does not have a residency clause and is in effect through 2020, one year less than his previous contract.

His initial annual salary will be $135,000 with the first annual 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment on July 1, 2018. The district will contribute $1,500 monthly into a tax-deferred annuity.

The contract states Hess will work 12 months out of the year, 260 contract days. He is entitled to 25 days of vacation in addition to paid holidays observed by the district.He may carry up to 10 vacation days to the following year for a maximum of 35 vacation days in a year. He also may choose to cash out up to 10 days of vacation per year.

The new contract eliminates 12 paid days off that were part of the previous contract.

Additionally, the new contract contains “new language allowing for termination without cause…including a provision for liquidated damages that limits the district’s liability to 12 months of pay,” according to the memo.

The contract states Hess may resign and terminate the agreement with 90 days written notice and the district may terminate his employment “at any time, with or without cause, and without superintendent’s concurrence.”

Ethics Commission update
Oliver followed up on an issue that arose last summer in reference to Hess’s romantic relationship with, and subsequent marriage to Pioneer School Principal Tonya Cairo.

He was authorized by board members then to determine whether the district is in compliance with state law regarding public officials supervising a relative or member of a household.

“Prior to the last board meeting, I had some conversation with a representative at the Oregon Ethics Commission in follow-up to a request for an opinion,” Oliver said.

He did not yet have any additional information for the board.

“I think we discussed last time, they won’t give us a formal letter of opinion because the inquiry has to do with something that has already occurred but they will provide some advice on how to proceed,” Oliver said.

“When we have that we’ll take that into account. We’d been holding off on wrapping up some of Jollee Patterson’s work until that was done.”

At the December board meeting, Oliver presented an update from Patterson’s “ongoing work pertaining to policy and procedure related to the District’s handling of complaints and hiring of family and household members.”

Oliver said he thinks the district needs to have some policy pieces revised and the board should continue to seek guidance.

“The brief conversation was basically that the initial steps that have been taken, having evaluation looked at, is an important piece of that and there are some very narrow lines that we have to stay within,” Oliver said.

“We also have had some conversation with a third-party (human resources) specialist who does this type of work so I expect that we’ll have another resource that can provide some assistance as well so we’re not putting staff in the position of making those policy recommendations.”

Grade configuration update
Hess said the forums the district has held regarding grade reconfiguration to alleviate overcrowding at Seven Oak Middle School have been well-attended.

There have been “great conversations and a facilitated process,” he said.

He said district staffers plan to present data to the board at the March 8 school board meeting and requested a special meeting before the April 12 budget committee meeting to allow school staff time to prepare for registration.

The next, and final, forum will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m.on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at Riverview School, 1011 Mountain River Drive.

Click here to view the district’s PowerPoint on the topic.

A special board meeting on the topic is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, March 19, at the Santiam Travel Station, 750 S. Third St.