Throughout Wisconsin mask requirements in schools are dropping like flies as school boards are voting to make masks voluntary rather than mandatory. One of the exceptions is Franklin that refuses to budge.
I’ve written many times that Franklin operates under a twisted education system. The school board thinks and acts as though it works for the superintendent, or as we call the position in Franklin, district administrator. It’s supposed to be the other way around.
On his program Tuesday Newstalk 1130 WISN’s Mark Belling noted that school boards almost always go along with what their superintendents tell them. Connect the dots and it’s obvious what’s going on in Franklin regarding masks.
As I directly told Franklin District Administrator Judy Mueller during my testimony at last week’s school board meeting she is in a “tremendous position given her stature in the district and her influence” on the Franklin School Board. She could end the mask madness immediately by simply telling the school board to do it. But it’s painfully obvious she won’t. There is no end game in sight. Mueller and the school board have shown zero leadership on this issue.
Meanwhile many Franklin students suffer physically, emotionally, developmentally. But Mueller isn’t hurting. Far from it.
Through an open records request I obtained Mueller’s current contract with the school district. Here it is in it entirety:
DISTRICT ADMINISTRATOR’S CONTRACT
This Agreement is made and entered into by and between the Board of Education of the Franklin Public School District, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, hereinafter referred to as the “Board”, and Dr. Judy Mueller, a duly qualified District Administrator.
That for and in consideration of the annual salary hereby provided to be paid by the Board, Judy Mueller hereby agrees with Board that she will perform as District Administrator of the Schools of the District. This contract shall cover a two-year period beginning July 1, 2019, and ending June 30, 2021. It may be extended to June 30, 2022, if the Board and the District Administrator so agree on or before December 1, 2020.
In consideration of the agreement and the proper performance of her duties, as herein provided, said Board agrees to pay Judy Mueller an annual salary of $180,401 during the contract year beginning July 1, 2019, payable in equal installments, twice a month. The annual salary for the second year shall not be less than the annual salary for the 2019-20 school year.
All other provisions of Board policy that apply to administrators of the District, as those policies may be changed from time to time at the sole discretion of the Board, which are not covered in this contract shall also be applicable to the District Administrator. Where differences exist between Board policies and the terms of this contract, the terms of this contract shall take precedence.
It is further understood and mutually agreed that in performance of this contract, both parties hereto shall abide by the provision of the laws of Wisconsin relating to Wisconsin schools and all acts amendatory thereto.
I. PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION AND RESPONSIBILITIES
A. Certification: The District Administrator represents that she is fully eligible, whether by certificate, license or otherwise, to serve as a District Administrator in the State of Wisconsin, pursuant to applicable law, rule or regulation, and that such eligibility is a condition precedent to the assumption of any obligation by the Board of Education under the terms of this Agreement.
B. Responsibilities: The District Administrator agrees to devote her full time skill, labor and attention to the performance of the duties of District Administrator, as directed by the Board of Education and mandated by Section 118.24, Wisconsin Statutes, or other applicable law, rule or regulation, and will not engage in any pursuit or behavior which interferes with the proper discharge of such duties.
C. Outside Activities: The District Administrator shall devote her time, attention, and energy to the business of the District. However, she may serve as a consultant to other Districts or educational agencies subject to prior Board of Education approval.
D. Evaluation: The Board of Education shall evaluate and assess in writing, the performance of the District Administrator at least once a year.
II. ADDITIONAL BENEFITS
A. The Board agrees to provide the District Administrator a written job description of the District Administrator’s services, duties and obligations, subject to modification by the Board upon prior notice to, and consultation with, the District Administrator.
B. The Board shall evaluate the District Administrator’s performance based upon performance objectives which shall be developed and communicated to the District Administrator no later than August 15 of each school year.
C. The Board shall provide District Administrator with monthly payments into a tax sheltered annuity in the total amount of $5,000 per year.
D. The Board shall provide District Administrator with a transportation allowance of $300 per month.
E. Subject to pre-approval by the Board, tuition costs shall be reimbursed at 100% for up to twelve (12) credits per year for any completed undergraduate or graduate credits taken in the areas of education, law, business administration or management. Additional credit reimbursement may be granted at the discretion of the Board.
F. The Board agrees to pay the membership dues in the Wisconsin Association of District Administrators (WASDA), the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the Wisconsin Association of School Personnel Administrators (WASPA), and the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).
G. The District Administrator shall be encouraged to attend appropriate professional meetings at the local, state, and national level. The Board agrees to budget and approve funds to allow the District Administrator to attend state conferences and meetings and one (1) national conference annually, in addition to attendance with School Board members, at the National School Board Association annually.
H. Reasonable expense incurred while conducting District business (excluding vehicle mileage which is covered by the transportation allowance) will be reimbursed by the District after submission of a monthly expense statement and after approval by the Board President.
I. The Board shall pay the same percentage toward the premium for a policy of term life, accidental death and dismemberment insurance as provided to other administrators in the District per the Employee Handbook. The face value of the policy shall be in the amount of 1.5 times the year’s annual salary.
J. The Board shall provide a long-term disability income policy beginning after thirty (30) days of disability and providing a monthly benefit equal to 90% of the District Administrator’s monthly salary.
K. The District Administrator shall be entitled to twelve (12) sick days annually cumulative to a total of one hundred twenty (120) days. The District Administrator shall retain her current sick leave accumulations from her prior position with the District.
L. The District Administrator shall be entitled to time off for those holidays designated by the Board. These holidays currently are: July 4th, Labor Day; Thanksgiving and the day after Thanksgiving; Christmas Eve; Christmas Day; New Year’s Eve; New Year’s Day; Good Friday; and Memorial Day.
M. The District Administrator shall be entitled to five weeks (25 days) of vacation annually. The District Administrator shall retain her current vacation accumulations from her prior position with the District. Up to ten (10) days may be carried over into the next school year. The scheduling of vacation time shall be in accordance with the policies of the Board.
N. The Board shall pay the same percentage toward the premium for the standard single or family health insurance policy as provided to other administrators in the District per the Employee Handbook. The District Administrator will pay the balance of the premium through payroll deduction. Should the District Administrator so choose, she shall be entitled to the benefits of the Employee Handbook related to payments in lieu of health insurance, as such benefits may be changed by the Board from time to time.
O. The Board shall pay the same percentage toward the premium for the standard single or family dental insurance policy as provided to other administrators in the District per the Employee Handbook.
P. The Board agrees to allow up to four (4) personal/business days to be used during the year at the discretion of the District Administrator. It is understood that use of these days will not affect the operation of the District.
Q. The Board shall provide District Administrator with a cell phone allowance of $86 per month.
R. The Board agrees that the District Administrator shall retain the retirement benefits she accrued during her prior employment with the District, specifically Tier 1, Group A of the post-employment benefit tier structure adopted by the School Board on March 12, 2014. Upon giving 6 months notice, the District Administrator may exercise her right to retire at any time.
III. CONTRACT TERMINATION
A. Termination by Mutual Agreement: Upon mutual written agreement by the Board and the District Administrator, this contract and the employment of the District Administrator may be terminated without penalty or prejudice against either the Board and the District Administrator.
B. Discharge: Throughout the term of this Agreement, the District Administrator shall be subject to discharge for cause.
C. Contract Renewal/Non-Renewal: Renewal and non-renewal of this contract shall be governed by Section 118.24, Wisconsin Statutes.
D. Invalid Provisions: If an ay article or part of this contract is held to be invalid by operation of the law or any tribunal of competent jurisdiction, or if compliance with or enforcement of any part should be restrained by any tribunal, the remainder of the contract shall not be affected thereby.
The above contract was signed on1/21/2020 by Judy Mueller and then-School Board president Janet Evans. I cannot confirm if Mueller’s contract has been extended.
For some perspective consider the annual salary for WI Governor Tony Evers is $152,756.
Attorney General Josh Kaul: $148,242
State Superintendent of Public Instruction: $127,047
(Source: WI Legislative Reference Bureau)
I don’t necessarily begrudge Mueller and her bloated salary. Whether it’s justified is certainly debatable.
From a January 2019 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on the salaries of WI school superintendents:
“The narrative that Wisconsin’s K12 schools are starving for money is ridiculous and all taxpayers need for proof of this is to look at the salaries of superintendents and administrators,” said Brett Healy, president of the Madison-based John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, a think tank that promotes free markets, individual freedom and limited government.
“As a taxpayer advocate, I find it frustrating that we spend so much money on administrative salaries and benefits at the same time that every administrator runs around telling the public that we taxpayers do not give the schools enough of our hard-earned money,” Healy said.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Mueller is comfortable. Quite comfortable. Yet she insists on making school conditions unnecessarily uncomfortable for Franklin students and their parents.