Thirty days of unused vacation will transform into 3½ years of health insurance for St. Charles schools Superintendent Don Schlomann, who retires at the end of June.
School board members said the deal is not a "golden parachute" as they approved the change to Schlomann's employment contract in a 5-2 vote this week.
"I'm not in favor of sweetheart deals," said board member Steve Spurling in casting his "yes" vote. "I don't see this as anything close to that. (Schlomann) has saved the district millions."
The employment contract extension Schlomann signed in 2012 entitles him to the cash value of a maximum of 30 unused vacation days. Schlomann has had the same $225,000 base salary for all 10 years he's been with the district. In a 260-day work calendar, that salary translates to about $865 a day, or slightly less than $26,000 for 30 days.
Hoping to avoid handing over a big chunk of that to the IRS, Schlomann asked to trade that $26,000 check for more time on the district's health insurance. The district has a self-funded plan.
The annual cost for health and dental coverage is worth about $7,500 a year for Schlomann. Using those numbers, Schlomann would stay on the district's health plan through December 2020 instead of taking the vacation payout.
Board members Lori Linkimer and Ed McNally said Schlomann is entitled to the cash payout for his unused vacation. But they voted "no" on the plan because there is no certainty what the district's health insurance costs will be two or three years from now. And that means it's not clear if keeping Schlomann on the health plan is worth $26,000 or far more than that.
The past two years, premiums have increased between 6 and 7 percent.
"Those 30 days, we owe Dr. Schlomann every penny," Linkimer said. "I don't think we'd want to withhold one cent from him. But when the money in the bucket is gone, the money in the bucket is gone. I believe in dollar-for-dollar exchanging."
Schlomann's decision to forego the unpaid vacation time also means he won't be taking any vacation during his final days in the district. Board President Kathy Hewell thanked Schlomann for staying on the job to help finalize construction plans and bids for the renovation of Thompson and Wredling middle schools, and the Norris Recreation Center as well as the new artificial turf field at St. Charles North High School.