Friday, December 19, 2014

Former Ottawa superintendent staying in Hays, gets pay raise

By The Herald Staff | 12/18/2013

HAYS — Ottawa’s former school superintendent has turned an interim administrator gig into a permanent position.

Dean Katt, who served Ottawa schools from 2006 until his resignation in March, headed to Hays in September as the interim superintendent under a 13-month contract at a salary of $11,360.42 a month, or $147,685.46, for the 13-month interim period, according to the Hays Daily News. It was an increase over his $130,786 Ottawa salary, which amounted to $10,899 a month.

An employment agreement signed earlier this month by the Hays school board lists Katt’s new base annual salary as superintendent at $147,456, or $12,288 a month plus benefits — a raise of $11,131 annually or $928 per month from his interim salary, the newspaper reported.

The contract includes a six-month salary buy-out clause if the superintendent is terminated by the district, unless under certain conditions.

He also would receive payment for unused vacation time and his health insurance paid for six months in that event.

Voluntary resignation won’t invoke the severance requirements, according to the agreement.

Katt resigned as Ottawa’s superintendent in March with little explanation, although the Ottawa school board voted to retain him as a paid consultant through Oct. 31.

While the Hays school board hired the Kansas Association of School Boards in October to conduct a superintendent search, district officials said they knew early on in the process that Katt was a viable internal candidate, the Hays Daily News reported.

“We listened, we heard, and we feel that we’ve got [the right person] sitting right here at the table,” Darren Schumacher, Hays school board vice president, said.

The district had a “very strong pool” of candidates, Josh Waddell, board member, said.

“Your strengths, what we were asking you versus what you posed to us, I would say you were dead on the mark, true to form, and have lived up very well,” Waddell said.

Katt’s pick is not without controversy, however.

The Hays National Education Association has filed an investigation request into an alleged violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act by the Hays school board, the newspaper reported.

The request, filed in September by Kathy Rome, KNEA UniServ director, alleges the board “violated the KOMA in offering a contract to the interim superintendent.”

Rome said the investigation request has nothing to do with Katt himself.

“It’s simply that we feel that our school board should follow the laws and follow the procedures as they should be,” she said.

Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees said he is looking into the allegation but hasn’t set a timeline to complete the investigation.

Katt grew up in the Hays area. He received his bachelor’s degree in education in 1982 and his master’s in education administration in 1992 from Fort Hays State University.

His wife, Ronda, a Lawrence elementary school teacher, remained in Ottawa.

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