LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid school board has denied a request by Superintendent Randy Richards to reimburse him for 20 unused vacation days, opting to wait and see if he can use some of them before his contract expires at the end of the upcoming school year.
Richards' request totaled about $9,600 for 20 unused vacation days. He told the board he was unable to take a vacation at the end of the 2011-12 school year because he was putting in extra time at the middle-high school, which lacked a principal after Katherine Mulderig left the district in April.
School board President Mary Dietrich said Richards, who will leave the district after the 2012-13 school year, discussed his request with a lawyer for the school district, Jacqueline Kelleher, who said it was reasonable.
"She did think the number of days was excessive," Dietrich said. "She felt like three to five days would be a fair reimbursement, but it was difficult to take the vacation time."
Under his contract, Richards can carry up to 25 unused vacation days forward from the previous school year. To date, he's earned 53.
Richards said he felt he couldn't take a vacation because there wasn't a principal at the middle-high school. Former assistant Principal Dan Mayberry performed some of the principal's duties, but he couldn't cover everything, and Richards had to have a presence in the building.
But board members were reluctant to pay the nearly $10,000 he's seeking. Martha Stahl asked if the board could revisit the issue at the end of the school year, before Richards leaves.
Board member Janet Smith agreed. She said Richards should be encouraged to use some of the vacation time he's accumulated.
"He needs to be compensated because he stayed and worked when there were no building principals," Smith said.
Board member Phil Baumbach noted the board recently compensated Mayberry to the tune of more than $5,000 for taking on extra work.
"The board set a bit of a precedent with Mayberry," he said. "We compensated him for working extra days and harder."
Herb Stoerr said Richards is entitled to his vacation days.
"We all know his workload increased, but we still have a year to go, and I think paying him now is a little bit premature because maybe we can work some of the vacation days off," he said.