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Mason City Schools’ Director of Finance on administrative leave, will be replaced at special meeting Monday

John Berg, holding a check.

MASON CITY – As questions swirl in the community about his salary, John Berg, Director of Finance/Board Secretary for the Mason City Community School District, was placed on paid administrative leave in recent days and will be replaced at a special board meeting Monday.

NIT learned that there has been confusion in the community about John Berg’s salary, leading to questions for Superintendent Michael Penca. NIT asked Mr. Penca if John Berg “is still in good-standing and fully employed, doing his job at the Mason City School District at this time?”

Mr. Penca answered back, saying “John Berg, Director of Finance/Board Secretary for the Mason City Community School District, was placed on paid administrative leave on June 2, 2017 effective through the remainder of his contract on June 30, 2017. The District is unable to comment on matters related to personnel issues.”

In the wake of the action taken by the Mason City School District to axe Berg, the School Board will meet Monday morning to find his replacement. At a special session scheduled for June 12 at 7 AM in the Administrative Center Board Room, the board will appoint an “Acting Board Secretary/Treasurer”.

John Berg, an accountant, got his new position as Board Secretary and Treasurer with the Mason City School District after Ramona Jeffrey retired in December of 2015.  Berg was slated to receive a salary of $65,000 in fiscal year 2016. However, NIT has learned through our investigations that Berg came to be paid in excess of $80,000, leading to questions about how he came to be paid so much more than his allotted salary.

For fiscal year 2017, Berg, along with all the other school non-bargaining school district employees were approved a 3% raise (see Youtube video from June 20, 2016). NIT reached out to various sources connected to the Mason City School District seeking to find out how much Berg has been paid in fiscal year 2017. No one could give a definitive answer.

Micich doled out tens of thousands in bonuses without board approval – did she tutor Berg in the finer points of “getting paid” – or is this all one big misunderstanding?

This latest shakeup in the district’s administration building comes after the board refused to give the District Superintendent job to Mr. Penca (who instead took a job in Arizona), who some felt has been too far under the tutelage of the mysterious Anita Micich.  Further muddying the waters is the fact that, as NIT reported back in June of 2016, buried deep in the bowels of the sate’s bureaucratic mechanisms, is a potential bombshell audit involving Micich, Jeffrey – who Berg worked under for years – and others.  Some in the community are confident that even though Micich unceremoniously left town after the board gave her the boot, she could very well end up back in Cerro Gordo county to answer for the way she doled out upwards of $70,000 in bonuses to Jeffrey and another retired administrator, Hal Minear.


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