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Benefits added to retiring superintendent’s contract

West AurorSchool District Superintendent James Rydland

West Aurora School District Superintendent James Rydland

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Updated: March 26, 2014 6:15AM

AURORA — The West Aurora School Board has agreed to pay outgoing Superintendent James Rydland up to $45,000 in additional benefits, in part to make up for a period of three years that his salary was frozen.

Rydland will receive $25,000 to put toward an investment and up to $20,000 to cover relocation costs, according to the amended agreement that was approved unanimously by board members last week.

The investment is an annuity payment, Board President Neal Ormond said. Annuities are funds that individuals can pay in to so that at a future time they will receive installment payments. Annuities often are used to help stabilize income received during retirement.

“We thought the annuity payment at the end was very appropriate and much less expensive than if he’d gotten what he deserves,” Ormond said.

Ormond said Rydland’s salary was frozen over three school years starting in 2009 — a time of economic uncertainty for many school districts as the recession stretched on.

During that time Rydland did not receive merit or cost of living increases, Ormond said, although Rydland’s contract entitled him to them. According to the Beacon-News archives, Rydland’s salary was frozen at $192,200 during that time.

Rydland received a 2.5 percent raise in 2012 and 3.25 percent raise the next year, Ormond said.

“The board did that knowing that he deserved more, but that’s all he wanted to take,” Ormond said, adding that Rydland could have taken up to a 6 percent raise. “He did not want to take something that might be viewed as inappropriate. The board has felt given his high performance level he was being very modest on what he was asking for, or not asking for.”

Rydland is retiring after nine years as superintendent with a base salary of $203,000, according to Ormond, who said that figure is “very low on the competitive list.”

West Aurora’s new superintendent Jeffrey Craig will earn a base salary of $190,000 a year, Ormond said. His official start date is July 1, though he is working with the district during the transition time.

Rydland’s contract with West Aurora ends June 27. It was originally set to expire in 2017.

The agreement states that the district will pay “reasonable” relocation costs for Rydland through Oct. 1.

Ormond said when Rydland was hired there was a verbal understanding that upon retirement he might want to move back to Washington, the state he lived in before he moved to Illinois, and that the district was open to covering relocation costs then.

“I don’t know for sure what he’s going to do,” Ormond said. “We’d only pay moving expenses if he did move.”

Rydland also will be reimbursed for accumulated, unused vacation days.

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