Steamboat Springs For a school district that has repeatedly - and correctly - stressed the importance of attracting and retaining good personnel, we're a little surprised the situation with Director of Finance and Operations Dale Mellor hasn't been resolved.
To that end, the School Board should authorize a one-time bonus of $7,770 - the difference between Mellor's salary and that of the superintendent during the seven-week period for which Mellor was tasked with leading the Steamboat Springs School District.
Mellor assumed the duties of superintendent on Aug. 10, when the previous School Board voted to buy out the contract of former Superintendent Donna Howell. The buyout was effective immediately. Mellor continued as acting superintendent until Oct. 1, when interim Superintendent Sandra Smyser began work. That seven-week period included a difficult transition from the old Soda Creek Elementary School to the temporary facility at Seventh and Pine streets.
Mellor recently approached the School Board about being compensated for his additional work. School Board member Denise Connelly has been designated as the liaison between Mellor and the board. The two sides hope to work out an agreement in the next week or two.
The simple fact is that the School Board should not expect an employee to take on the duties of his supervisor - who in this case happened to be the highest-ranking administrator in the district - for an extended period of time without compensating him for it.
At a School Board meeting Nov. 26, board member John DeVincentis questioned whether Mellor deserves extra compensation.
"The intention of the board at that time was not to have Dale become the acting superintendent," DeVincentis said. "That was the chain of command the former superintendent put in place."
What DeVincentis is conveniently forgetting is that School Board policy mandates that the superintendent "assure that no fewer than one other executive staff member is familiar with Board and District Superintendent issues and processes and is capable of assuming Superintendent responsibilities on an interim basis should the unexpected need arise" (Executive Limitations policy No. 2).
The district's administrative organization chart puts the director of finance and operations and the director of curriculum and instruction directly beneath the superintendent in chain of command. Director of Curriculum and Instruction JoAnne Hilton-Gabeler started her job Aug. 1 and certainly was in no position to take the reins of the district. Mellor was the obvious choice, and there is no indication that board members had any issues with Mellor's role as acting superintendent until he asked to be compensated for it. In fact, it was board members themselves who told Mellor on Aug. 10 that he would be in charge of the district until a replacement could be found.
By all accounts, Mellor worked tirelessly to make the best of a difficult situation.
"I will be extremely happy to get somebody else on to do this job," Mellor told the Steamboat Pilot & Today on Sept. 14. "I am working twice the hours and falling further behind. I'm finding it difficult to do the job I was hired to do. I was happy to do this job, but will be happy when we find someone else."
It's not a job he signed up for, but it's a responsibility he accepted when it was thrust upon him. Unlike district teachers and support staff, who have negotiated policies dictating extra duty pay for additional responsibilities they assume, district administrators have no such agreement in place.
Mellor and the School Board should have addressed the compensation issue months ago, but they didn't. Now, the School Board should do the right thing and give Mellor a one-time bonus of $7,770.