My report on Mitchell superintendent Joe Graves’s six-figure moonlighting as Teaching American History grant coordinator for Mid-Central Educational Cooperative got him some ink in the Mitchell paper. Now it’s gotten him some electrons on KELO-TV, where Angela Kennecke asks him about his extra work:
“I always looked at it that I administered the grant for about $30,000 a year. Not bad. No, it’s good pay. I didn’t pursue it for the money. I pursued it because I was interested in the area, but I was also happy with the dollars,” Graves said [Angela Kennecke, “Mitchell Superintendent Defends ‘Second Job’,” KELO-TV, 2015.10.05].
Boy, there must be something about earning six figures from MCEC that makes administrators bad at remembering money. From June 2011 to July 2014, Graves drew $157,500 in TAHG stipends. That’s a little more than three years of documented payments, and a little more than $50,000 for each of those years. If you want to get technical and go by calendar year, the MCEC minutes available online show Graves receiving TAHG stipends totaling $37,500 in 2011, $62,500 in 2012, $42,500 in 2013, and $20,000 in 2014, an average of $40,625 in each calendar year. (And we’re not even counting the $19,502.69 in expenses for which MCEC reimbursed Graves.)
Neither $40,000 nor more certainly $50,000 is “about $30,000.” Why is it so hard for these administrators associated with MCEC to just say what they made?
Graves does offer a pretty remarkable argument against the legal validity of the moonlighting clause in his contract. Kennecke raises a contractual question first raised on Dakota Free Press by Mitchell resident and former school board member Rod Hall. Consider Clause #6 of his current $128,550 contract with the Mitchell School District:
Graves goes linguistic and says the clause he signed is absurd and unenforceable:
“Right, and that contract as in existence from the very beginning; item number 6. So I sat down with the board member who presented that to me at the time and said, ‘You know, the language here is a little odd–basically in that–could you sleep? Well no–you can’t because it’s your entire time,'” Graves said [Kennecke, 2015.10.05].
Graves has an interesting “right-to-work” point: How can an employer lay claim to an employee’s “entire time”? As long as an employee shows up and gets things done, who is the boss to forbid an employee from holding down a second job?
But the question remains just how much work Graves did to earn more than a typical teacher’s salary coordinating grant money and arranging trips for history teachers (and, according to his comments to Kennecke, getting to go on those trips himself). 18% administrative overhead, all going into one guy’s pocket? That still seems inefficient to me.