A review of hundreds of pages of Milton School District documents provides context to an investigation into administrator compensation now unfolding behind closed doors.
The documents show some payments made to district administrators did not receive approval from the district’s director of business services. They also reveal another payment made to Superintendent Tim Schigur that has not been discussed publicly.
Through an open records request, The Gazette obtained access to:
- Documents granting stipends and bonuses to school district administrative employees between Jan. 1, 2013, and Feb. 10, 2019.
- Documents granting stipends and bonuses to district employees between Jan. 1, 2018, and Feb. 10, 2019.
The documents show payments ranging from $30 to $14,000 were given to district employees for paid time off, promotions, job changes and additional responsibilities.
In February, the school board launched an investigation into stipends given to Schigur, Director of Administrative Operations Jerry Schuetz and IT employee Michael Gouvion and whether the approval process violated state law or board policy.
The Gazette obtained new copies of the stipend documents that reveal more information.
The new copies show school board President Tom Westrick recommended that Schigur’s $10,500 compensation for a doctorate he earned in May 2018 be awarded as a one-time payment. Westrick recommended that Schuetz’s $10,000 compensation for additional work and job responsibilities be “spread through rest of year.”
Mary Ellen Van Valin, district director of business services, wrote “not in 2018-19 original budget” on both compensation documents. Her notes were dated Nov. 16, three days after the district stamped the documents as received. Other handwritten notes, dated Nov. 19, give Westrick’s instructions for disbursement of the money.
Van Valin did not sign either document on the line available for the director of business services.
Schuetz on Thursday declined to answer questions about the documents on the advice of legal counsel Shana Lewis, including whether Van Valin’s signature was needed to approve the payments.
Van Valin did sign off on other payment and employment adjustments that were given to administrators, according to the documents.
Human Resources Director Chris Tukiendorf, a human resources specialist, payroll supervisor and payroll specialist all signed off on both stipends.
Another document obtained by The Gazette shows another payment made to Schigur that has not been publicly discussed.
On July 5, 2018, Van Valin wrote a note on a payroll document for Schigur that stated:
“Per my conversation (11:50 a.m.) this morning with Tom Westrick, please pay out Tim for 72 hours of unused 2017-18 vacation time on the July 13 (sic) payroll (update to June). The added work for the referenda warrants this exception.”
The document shows 72 hours of vacation time added up to $4,967. Schigur received that sum in a vacation payout, according to an account distribution report from the district.
Schigur’s contract does not specifically grant payout for unused vacation days. The contract does allow for up to five days of paid time off to be paid out at $100 per day.
Westrick told The Gazette on Thursday he does not remember if he authorized the vacation payment or if the board ever discussed it. He said he did not know whether Schigur’s contract would allow such a payment.
A review of school board minutes from summer 2018 does not show the board discussed paid vacation time for Schigur.
Lewis said she has advised board members and district staff not to discuss the investigation with each other or others. She said additional information will be provided after the investigation is finished.