dr martens 1460 8 eye boot Board objects to commissioners’ request on superintendent benefits
The school board approved a motion at its Jan. 25 meeting to draft a letter of disapproval to the local delegation and the Maryland Association of Boards of Education regarding the county commissioners’ legislative request to cease the compensation and benefits of the superintendent upon retirement, dismissal, termination or removal unless the benefits are proportionate to a school system employee with the same tenure.
According to previous reports, the legislative request was spurred at an October Board of County Commissioners work session due to events in Howard County where the county’s school board agreed to pay school superintendent Renee Foose $1.65 million plus lifelong health benefits to encourage her retirement.
“The main reason for this is that the responsibility for negotiating contracts with the [superintendent] is with the board of education, not with the county commissioners. If something like this were to pass, there would be, from my perspective, no end to the possibilities,” he said.
Phalen, who is on MABE’s legislative committee, added that his second reason for making the motion is because MABE only takes positions on local bills if the local school board has already done so.
The association takes a position on all state legislation dealing with education.
“That vote is not automatic, either. It’s the legislative committee at MABE that makes the decision on whether or not to support a particular piece of legislation,” Phalen clarified.
School board member Pamela Cousins asked Phalen if there is any similar legislation in other counties with a comparable government structure.
Kelly McConkey, board member, said he thinks the commissioners’ reasoning behind this is related to former Calvert County Public Schools superintendent Jack Smith,
whose lifetime benefits have been criticized in recent years for their cost. While Smith’s contracts paid him a base salary of $169,000 a year, his total compensation was upward of $300,000 in his last year as superintendent, according to previous reports in The Calvert Recorder, and he held similar contracts with his executive team. Smith is currently the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools.
In an emailed statement, Commissioners’ President Evan Slaughenhoupt (R) said the request is not purposed to cease the compensation and benefits of the superintendent, but is rather to ensure those retirement benefits are commensurate with merit employees who are likewise separating from service.
“The bottom line for the request was to ensure on behalf of the tax payers that their tax dollars do not fund lifetime health insurance for departing superintendents and their spouses. I believe we are already on the hook for such with some former superintendents,” Slaughenhoupt stated in the email.
McConkey said at the meeting that this legislation would not affect the school board’s current negotiations as CCPS Superintendent Dan Curry’s four year contract expires at the end of June.
“I don’t think the bill will pass anyway, but I would abstain myself from signing that letter going to the commissioners. Like I said, I believe it’s the board of education’s responsibility to sign the contract with the superintendent, not the county commissioners,” said McConkey, who has recently filed for candidacy in the county commissioners’ District 3 race.
The motion passed with McConkey abstaining and the rest of the board in favor. President of the school board Tracy McGuire said the board will send a letter to the county’s delegation and the speaker of the House, expressing its objections to the legislation. A letter will also be sent to the MABE legislative committee asking it to support the board in this matter.
During board comments,
Curry fulfilled his responsibility in informing the school board that he is interested in another contract. McGuire replied that the board is interested in giving him another contract and negotiations will begin soon.