School Board hires new business manager

Posted: Mar. 22, 2012 10:47 am Updated: Apr. 5, 2012 11:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The Quincy School Board on Wednesday offered a three-year contract to Joel Murphy of Plainfield to become the district's next business manager. He will replace Bud Martin, who retired Wednesday.

Murphy will be paid a $125,000 salary, and his contract includes a buyout provision that calls for paying Murphy $82,000 -- approximately two-thirds of a year's salary -- if the board chooses to get rid of him for any reason. The buyout would have to be paid in 12 equal monthly installments, the contract says.

The buyout provision became a subject of debate during Wednesday's board meeting. Board member Steve Krause said he was bothered somewhat to see the school district offer a buyout as part of an employee's contract. He noted how John Wood Community College's Board of Trustees recently took some heat for having to pay its former president, Tom Klincar, about $185,000 last fall to buy out his contract even though Klincar had accepted another job elsewhere. JWCC also had to pay Klincar's moving expenses.

Krause said he wanted to talk with the district's attorney, Dennis Gorman, and other board members about the buyout provision. This prompted the board to go into closed session for a second time during Wednesday night's monthly board meeting.

After the board emerged from the closed-door session, Gorman said buyout provisions like the one offered in Murphy's contract are becoming standard fare for top-level administrators. He said offering a buyout provision is a way for a district to put a cap on how much financial liability it could face if the working arrangement with a contracted employee went sour. He said if the employee contends that a threatened termination is not his or her fault, the employee could sue the district and possibly be awarded damages in addition to a salary settlement plus litigation costs. So one way to limit a district's liability exposure, he said, is to offer a buyout provision.

Murphy's contract also includes a $2,500 moving allowance.

Murphy is slated to begin work July 1. His contract will run through June 30, 2015.

Murphy's salary will be higher than the $110,000 paid to Martin last year as well as the $118,500 paid to Martin's predecessor, Rich Royalty, who will fill in temporarily as the district's business manager until Murphy arrives on the job.

Gorman explained that Murphy's higher salary reflects the fact he will be asked to take on some additional duties staring July 1, 2013, after the district's director of technology, Jody Cooper, retires. The tech director's position will be eliminated and the duties spread among several other administrators as a way to hold down administrative costs.