Belle Plaine Superintendent Ryan Laager plans to sign on with the district for another three years when his contract expires this July.
At the public school board organizational meeting on Monday, Jan. 4, the board discussed his proposed contract, which would not include a raise in salary but would include an additional 15 paid days for him to do consulting work with other districts, in addition to his 20 days of regular paid time off.
“We have had a lot of success both in the financial management of our district and work in social emotional learning,” wrote Dr. Laager in a partial statement to the Belle Plaine Herald. “Consulting opportunities allow me to highlight the positive work we have done, highlighting how great of a district Belle Plaine is, and allows me to learn about what is working and not working in other districts.”
He also noted that the consulting work creates new networking opportunities for the district.
“This helps strengthen our abilities to share ideas and resources with districts we most likely wouldn’t form relationships with,” he wrote.
Dr. Laager is typically compensated for his work by the districts he helps.
School board members Tracy O’Brien, Terry Kahle, and Matt Lenz showed support for these days at the school board meeting on Jan. 4. However, they said they did not feel comfortable doing an interview with the Belle Plaine Herald before the contract is officially approved.
School board member Terry Morrison said he thought it was unclear exactly how these consulting days would benefit the district.
“It’s a big price to pay. Three weeks away from your job is worth a lot,” said Morrison.
Morrison expressed concern that this would take Dr. Laager away from the pressing issues currently facing the district.
“I think the community needs to understand there is a lot to do here in Belle Plaine with improving test scores, working on curriculum, making sure in these times of COVID that our kids are getting their absolute best education, and not spending time worrying about how other districts are doing,” he said.
Morrison said he would like to see the consulting days removed from the contract altogether, with the superintendent doing the work by using his regular paid time off days or without compensation from the Belle Plaine School District.
The proposed contract will be up for discussion again in February. The contents of the contract are not final and could still change.