SAU is selecting candidates but contract terms remain a mystery

The SAU board has had three non-public meetings in July to review superintendent candidates.  So far, not even general contract terms have been made public. From the advertisement for the superintendent’s position, we know on offer is an  “initial multi-year contract, renewable yearly with a starting compensation competitive for the region, …”  There is a contract committee of two persons from the SAU board but apart from providing a comparison of  superintendent contracts from other districts, nothing more to my knowledge has been made public. Certainly nothing has been reported in meeting minutes.

Will the board not have a contract drafted before making a job offer to a new individual?  If the contract is already drafted, the terms should be made public.  If the contract is still almost wholly to be negotiated, what assurance do the taxpayers have that we will not once again be saddled with egregious terms that make it very difficult should we wish to fire an under-performing administrator? (Please see my June 16th post:  Want to be Dissatisfied with your Job?  Read the Superintendent’s Contract.)

The SAU has the statutory authority to hire a superintendent and the SAU board has the authority to approve his or her contract.  The terms of this contract should be made public well before the SAU board votes to approve it.  Yes, terms will change with negotiations, but taxpayers have a right to know what is on offer at the outset and after negotiation.  I would be looking for contract terms that hold the superintendent to measurable education outcomes, that do not permit consulting or other occupations while employed by the district, and annual renewals based on objective achievements set by the school boards.

Perhaps the board is thinking that making contract terms public while soliciting candidates will narrow the field.  Well, right now the current gold-encrusted contract is public and letting this stand uncorrected is either misleading candidates or seriously offending taxpayers.

What is the big mystery? It’s our money on the line and even more importantly, our chance to tie performance to employment. Unless more of us insist on seeing the contract terms before they are approved by the board, we might very well get more of what we have.

If you are tempted to think the SAU board will do just fine without public scrutiny and that the previous superintendent’s contract of 7 years was an aberration, take a look at the SAU’s policy for superintendent evaluation.  You’ll need to fan the sweet smoke away; it’s about as close to a love-in as you’ll see in these post-hippie days.

Through evaluation of the Superintendent, the Board will strive to accomplish the following:
1. Clarify for the Superintendent his/her role in the school system as seen by the Board.
2. Clarify for all Board members the role of the Superintendent in the light of the job
description and the immediate priorities among his/her responsibilities as agreed
upon by the Board and the Superintendent.
3. Develop a harmonious working relationship between the Board and Superintendent.
4. Provide effective administrative leadership for the school system.
The Board will provide the Superintendent with periodic opportunities to discuss
Superintendent Board relationships, and develop an appropriate program of evaluation of the
Superintendent and administration.

SAU policy CBI, reaffirmed April 21, 2011

SAU policies can be found on the SAU website under “SAU Policies”

The spreadsheet comparing superintendent contracts can be found under SAU Board Documents, “Superintendent Contracts”


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Filed under SAU 55 Issues, Superintendent Search

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