McClain asks board to make promised changes to contract

The Del Mar Union School District Board of Trustees directed Superintendent Sharon McClain to submit new language for a proposed amendment to the retirement benefits included in her contract at its Feb. 24 meeting.

The contract negotiated in September 2008 provides for an annual fixed retirement contribution of $16,000. The superintendent can use that amount to offset her contribution to the California State Teachers’ Retirement System or fund a tax-sheltered annuity, similar to a 401(k). But it allows an employee to set aside their own pre-tax dollars into an investment account that reduces his or her taxable gross income by the amount they contribute.

It was McClain’s request that her contract language be changed from tax-

sheltered annuity to compensation. This would allow her to receive the money as part of her salary.

The board voted unanimously on June 17 to approve the amendment, but McClain said seven months later that the change has yet to be implemented. She said her attorney has sent nine letters since December to the board’s attorney asking why the change had not been made and why the board had not signed the amendment document.

“I ask you, I beg you, to be honorable and act on the changes,” McClain said. “The board made a commitment to me, voted on it and then refused to act on it.”

McClain said the board was “grandstanding” for the public, asking the same questions it has asked several times in closed session.

Trustee Katherine White said the only reason the change has not been implemented is because it did not meet California State Teachers’ Retirement System guidelines.

White said McClain must come back to the board with language that it would accept. McClain said she would provide it with another proposed language change at the March 10 board meeting.

“The board will see what language is acceptable by STRS as a way to make the change happen,” board President Comischell Rodriguez said.

Parent Melanie Carmosino criticized the board for discussing McClain’s contract publicly.

“I feel for you, Sharon, that you have to go through this in a public hearing,” Carmosino said.