Rist defends his salary as interim Central principal
Rist, 64, also pays for his own family's health care benefits.
A few school board members last week questioned the salary that superintendent Debra Livingston agreed to pay Rist to fill in starting this month after Central Principal Ron Mailhot abruptly retired over what one school source has termed was a "management issue."
"Since February 2013, I've gotten one Social Security check," Rist said. "I've had one month of Social Security over the last 14 months, and I'll probably have to go an additional 10 months without Social Security."
The pension limits him to working 32 hours a week, he said.
In updating the search for a permanent Central High principal, Livingston said the district received more than 30 applications prior to last Friday's deadline. The search committee will narrow the field to three or four candidates by the end of March.
If Rist works his maximum 32 hours a week, he will gross $3,040 a week.
Mayor Ted Gatsas, who chairs the school board, said he recalled seeing financial figures showing Mailhot was paid about $87 an hour in wages and benefits to oversee the school of 1,893 students.
Ward 9 board member Art Beaudry argued that Central had four assistant principals; at least one of them could step up as the interim leader.
"In talking with John Rist, there were several things I felt were a match for Central," she said, citing a proven record at West and his upbeat attitude, among other things.
"I have to consider all of the possibilities and make the best decision I can, and in this case, what we also have to understand is there's not many people who are of the quality of Mr. Rist and second of all are available to step in to the interim job as quickly as Mr. Rist did," Livingston said.
Livingston said the $90-an-hour figure, set by a previous superintendent, set a base for figuring out Rist's pay this time.
He added, "That was the offer I made and they accepted it."
Gatsas declined to comment on why Mailhot and McGorry left the district. Livingston declined to talk about Mailhot's departure and said McGorry left prior to Livingston's arrival.
"At Central, it was a distressed situation," he said. "I don't know if you've been there recently, but there has been a different climate with teachers and students."
"They called me; I didn't call them," he said.