Friday, June 20, 2014

School board approves new superintendent contract

GwenCarol Holmes to receive annual salary of $168,000

Express Staff Writer

GwenCarol Holmes

    The Blaine County School District board of trustees unanimously approved on Tuesday a two-year contract with the district’s recently hired superintendent that provides for an annual salary of $168,000 plus numerous perks and benefits.
    GwenCarol Holmes, who was selected for the post in April, replaces Lonnie Barber, whose contract was terminated by the board in September 2013. Holmes’ annual salary is slightly higher than Barber’s, whose salary was just over $165,000 per year.
    The district provided a copy of the contract, including the benefit addendum, to the Idaho Mountain Express on Wednesday.
    Unlike the contract with Barber, the new contract provides termination language that could prevent a costly settlement if such a circumstance were to occur, as it did with Barber, whose settlement package included the remainder of 33 months of unpaid salary plus unused dollars from his benefit package. The total cost of the settlement package was $600,000.
    The new contract provides that if the “board terminates this contract for cause, the superintendent shall not be entitled to any further compensation as of the effective date of the board’s action.” If the contract is terminated “without cause,” the new contract provides that the “superintendent shall be entitled to the lesser of the equivalent of one year of salary from the date of the board’s vote or salary for the period remaining on the contract.”
    “For cause” termination provisions include violation of any lawfully approved rule or regulation of the board, violation of any directive of the board, violation of the code of ethics for professional educators, financial mismanagement and “any conduct which could serve as grounds for revocation of any certification issued by the Idaho State Department of Education.”
    Board Chair Shawn Bennion said Wednesday that a copy of the contract has been sent to Holmes for her signature. Bennion noted that Holmes was involved in discussions with the board regarding the contract before it was approved by the board at a Tuesday special meeting.
    “We have been in discussions on both sides to finalize the contract and addendum,” Bennion said. “It has been a very detailed process. This form has much more detail in it than past contracts. We have had a couple of attorneys look at it, as well as one representing Dr. Holmes.”
    Holmes, who most recently served as chief academic officer of Alexandria Public Schools in Virginia, is scheduled to assume the superintendent post July 1.
    The contract provides that the district will reimburse Holmes up to $25,000 for relocation expenses.
    Benefits include family medical, dental and vision insurance and a $250,000 life insurance policy. Also, as provided by law, the district will pay 11.32 percent of Holmes’ base salary in PERSI retirement contributions. However, not required by law, the district will also pay the 6.79 percent base salary employee contribution for PERSI retirement benefits. Further, the district will pay 9.02 percent of the base salary to a 401(a) retirement account for Holmes.
    Each year, Holmes will receive 15 days of paid vacation, 10 days of paid holiday, 12 days of paid sick leave and three days of paid personal leave.
    She will be provided with a district-owned vehicle for district business that can also be used for “incidental personal use in conjunction with district usage.”
    The contract also provides that the district will pay, upon board approval, the costs of “professional development activities.”
Terry Smith:

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