June 23, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

McPherson superintendent contract’s unique fringe benefit raises pension-spiking concern

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USD 418 McPherson Superintendent Dr. Shiloh Vincent receives four hours a week, 208 hours a year, or the equivalent of more than five weeks in comp time, according to his two-year  contract extension signed in 2021.

Dr. Vincent’s contract features similar benefits to that of others in his administrative position:

  • Vacation Leave: 20 days paid vacation leave per year. Accumulated vacation in excess of 20 days not used by December 30th of the following contract year is forfeited.
  • Sick Leave: 15 days paid sick leave annually. Sick days may accumulate but cannot exceed 75 days.

Among the other fringe benefits listed in the contract, such as health and life insurance, both a car provided by the school and reimbursement for private car expenses, and cell phone and computer allowances,  is this unusual addition:

 Up to four hours per week of compensation time to be used at the Superintendent’s discretion in communication with the Board

Granting a superintendent more than five weeks of comp time raises two concerns.  First, in combination with sick leave and vacation, Shiloh could be absent for 12 weeks.  The possibility of pension-spiking is another issue.

The issue of pension-spiking is a concern in public-sector pensions, such as those for government employees, including school personnel, and is defined as:

“…a practice in which city employees convert certain benefits such as unused sick time or saved vacation pay to boost their pension benefits. There are two main factors by which pension payouts are calculated: the salary – usually the highest salary – of the employee and the length of service of the employee. Pension spiking can be done either by converting saved sick and vacation pay to boost the salary on which the pension is calculated or by crediting saved sick and vacation time to artificially extend the length of service on which the pension is based. This practice is not illegal in most cities and states and is allowed or prohibited at the discretion of administrators.”

Dr. Vincent could conceivably use his non-compensated  time in lieu of either his sick leave or vacation leave, and save the compensated time to increase his income in his final year before retirement, on which his retirement benefits are calculated.

We reviewed the superintendents’ contracts in the largest districts in the state; Blue Valley, Kansas City, Lawrence, Olathe, Shawnee Mission, Topeka, and Wichita. None offered the “comp time” benefit accorded Dr. Vincent.

The practice is not illegal in Kansas, but we asked USD 418 School Board President Ann Elliott to comment on Dr. Vincent’s agreement in which he receives more than five weeks in “comp time”, in addition to four weeks’ vacation and three weeks’ sick leave, and the possibility of his using the “comp time’ in lieu of the other benefits his retirement is based upon.

She replied she was unable to comment on provisions of Dr. Vincent’s contract, citing confidentiality concerns, but did reply:

“The Board of Education unanimously approved his contract extension in 2021”

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