These are the comments I made at Tuesday’s board meeting about the contract extension and pay raise proposal for the superintendent. The proposal passed on a 4-3 vote, with Directors LaTasha DeLoach, Brian Kirschling, Chris Lynch, and Paul Roesler in favor, and Directors Phil Hemingway, Lori Roetlin, and me opposed.
The contract extension added a year to the length of the superintendent’s current contract, which will now extend through June 2019 instead of June 2018. The new contract increases the superintendent’s salary by 4.6% this year and commits to raising the salary again, by 5.1%, a year from now (though the new contract reduces the number of paid discretionary days by two this year and by two more next year). You can read the superintendent’s new contract here; additional information is here.
I am not in favor of the proposed contract extension and pay raise for the superintendent, for these reasons.
Under the proposal, the superintendent would receive the biggest raise by far of any employee in the district, both in percentage and absolute terms—much bigger than what we gave our teachers and other staff groups, and much more than simply a cost-of-living increase to keep pace with inflation.
As we have said to the public many times, general fund money is very scarce. We’ve said that to families whose busing we’ve cut, to parents who are unhappy with our class sizes, and to teachers and staff who would have liked larger pay increases. There is no reason we shouldn’t say the same thing to the superintendent.
The proposal not only gives the superintendent the biggest raise in the district, it commits to providing him another raise next year—which will very likely be the biggest raise anyone gets next year. This is particularly unwise, since we have no idea how much state funding we will receive next year. Again, we did not commit to future salary increases for our teachers or other staff groups; there is no reason we should treat the superintendent differently.
If we adopt this proposal, we will rightly be perceived as brushing off the very legitimate concerns that members of the public have about, for example, the district’s violations of special education laws and ongoing problems with the district culture. This decision will further undermine public trust in the district.
The superintendent still has a year and eight months remaining in his current contract. I think it’s reasonable to wait until we have more information about how the district is addressing its challenges before considering whether to tack another year onto that contract length.
I am not persuaded that this proposal is necessary in order to retain our superintendent and avoid a superintendent search; nor am I convinced that that goal outweighs the arguments against the extension and raise. Where I work, at the University, the usual practice is that an employee cannot get a retention-based raise unless he or she has a competing offer in hand. If our superintendent does receive a competing offer, we could always revisit his contract and salary at that time and make a more informed decision.
Related post here.