SIOUX CITY | Coming off a period in which the Sioux City School Board members said they investigated and found no fault in the leadership of Superintendent Paul Gausman, the board voted Tuesday to raise his salary by 1.11 percent.

The Sioux City School Board voted 5-2 to raise Superintendent Paul Gausman’s salary from $235,904 to $238,523 for the 2017-2018 school year.

The topic was set on the consent agenda portion of the meeting, which typically gets little discussion and proceeds with a quick vote. School Board President Mike Krysl said during a Journal interview following the meeting that the 1.11 percent raise was set in conjunction with talking to Gausman, and to match the percent of allowable growth, or new money percentage approved by the Iowa Legislature for K-12 state schools.

The vote was 5-2 for Gausman's raise and three other items on the consent agenda. Board members Paul Gorski and David Gleiser voted nay, while affirmative votes came from Krysl, Jackie Warnstadt, Mike McTaggart, John Meyers and Perla Alarcon-Flory.

Last year, Gausman’s base salary grew from $229,000 to $235,904.

He also will receive an increase in the annual contribution the district makes to a tax-sheltered retirement annuity of his choice, raising that total from $33,306 to $35,778 per year. Krysl said the annuity and salary bumps were the only portions that changed from Gausman's prior contract.

Krysl said "holding (Gausman's) salary to 1.11 percent is the right thing to do" given the school district's financial stress for 2017-18.

"In better times, we could do more for him... He is receiving a competitive salary," Krysl said.

Gausman has been working off a series of rolling three-year contracts, with one year added each summer. The new contract extends him through June 2020. Gausman was hired as superintendent in 2008.

The school district Finance Director John Chalstrom leveled a series of allegations against Gausman through an intermediary in February. Chalstrom accused Gausman of creating a hostile workplace and threatening his job if he shared alternative budget proposals with board members outside of regular meetings.

Gausman has vehemently denied all of the charges.

At the end of the June 29 board meeting, Krysl told the Journal the internal investigation was finished and the board found no evidence of wrongdoing by Gausman, a former Iowa superintendent of the year.

"(The public) can rest assure that the board did take this seriously and undertook a fact-finding mission of its own.... We don't think it is necessary to take any other action," Krysl said at the time.

A few days later, Chalstrom told the Journal he was not questioned as part of the recently completed school board investigation into the charges.

Board members by a 5-2 vote on April 10 approved a settlement agreement with Chalstrom. Under the deal, he remains on paid administrative leave until the expiration of his contract on Friday, the end of the district's current budget year. Additionally, he will receive about $35,000 in severance pay through Sept. 30.

On Tuesday, Krysl didn't directly reference the investigation, but said Gausman isn't a perfect superintendent.

"He has learned a lot over the last year," Krysl said, adding the school board members will work closely with Gausman "to avoid any pitfalls along with him."

Krysl continued, "He has moved the district forward to a level of progress that hasn't been realized for a long time."

Sioux City is the state’s fourth largest school district.

A Journal analysis in August 2015 found Gausman’s base salary was in a virtual tie for second place in the state, just $27 less than the superintendent for Cedar Rapids, Iowa's second-largest district. His salary was fourth largest last year.

Krysl said Gausman's relative salary rank among Iowa metro schools will likely drop in 2017-18, under the presumption that superintendents in other large districts will get higher percentage raises.

The school board negotiated pay raises for unionized teachers in a two-year contract that recently moved to the second year. Teachers received a 3.5 percent increase in the total pay and benefits package the first year, and a 3.55 percent increase for the year from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018.


County and education reporter

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