The school board's choice to become the new superintendent of the Douglas County School District is being offered an annual salary of $258,420, according to a contract unanimously approved by the …
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The contract offered to Thomas Tucker includes the following:
• Base annual salary of $258,420.
• The district will contribute $20,000 to a tax-sheltered annuity plan.
• Reimbursment for district-related travel at the then-IRS rate.
• 35 days of paid time off.
• Reimbursment of up to $15,000 for relocation expenses, including house hunting, transportation to and living expenses in Douglas County, packing, insuring and transporting household furniture and goods and temporary living expenses.
The Douglas County School Board faced backlash from some community members for not posting the superintendent contract with the agenda ahead of the April 17 school board meeting. The full contract was posted on the district's website during the meeting, which began at 6 p.m.
School board agendas are posted on the district's website, www.dcsdk12.org, at least 24 hours prior to each meeting. The agenda was posted for the April 17 meeting but it did not include an attachment with the contract.
“Without the contract there is nothing for the public to review,” Douglas County resident Aaron Johnson said in an email to Colorado Community Media.
While the district was not specifically required to post the contract online ahead of the meeting, if at all possible it should have made the contract available somewhere for the public a day in advance, said Jeff Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.
Board President David Ray addressed the topic during the April 17 meeting, stating that the contract was not posted earlier because the board was reviewing specifics with its legal team that day.
“The contract has to be something the board does with the legal council first before they entertain a motion to put it out to the public,” said Ray.
There is no requirement in the Colorado Open Meetings Law that the agenda be posted online, only that the notice be posted “in a designated public place within the boundaries of the local public body no less than 20 hours prior to the holding of the meeting,” Roberts said in an email correspondence. The public place should be designated annually.
“The agenda requirements in the law are considered to be flexible, but the bottom line is that the notice should contain specific information `where possible,' ” said Roberts. “If it's possible to include an agenda item on the superintendent's contract, it should be on the agenda so that the people know what to expect at the meeting and can attend if the contract is of interest to them.”
The school board's choice to become the new superintendent of the Douglas County School District is being offered an annual salary of $258,420, according to a contract unanimously approved by the board April 17.
School board President David Ray said he has every reason to believe Thomas Tucker, superintendent of Princeton City Schools in Cincinnati, will agree to the contract.
“I just want to note that truly it's been a team effort on Dr. Tucker's part,” Ray said at the April 17 school board meeting. “He did not come in trying to get the highest-paying salary in Colorado. He came in saying, 'What can I do to be a team player for this district.'”
Tucker's five-year deal would begin on July 1 and end on June 30, 2023, according to the contract, which was posted on the district's website during the school board meeting. Tucker must establish residency in Douglas County by July 1. To help with the transition of duties, Tucker is requested to start working with the district five to 10 days prior to July 1, the contract states.
The salary offered to Tucker had to compare to “generous” salaries offered to past Douglas County superintendents, Ray said. Elizabeth Fagen, who left for a superintendent job in Texas in 2016, was paid an annual salary of more than $270,000. Interim Superintendent Erin Kane has been making an annual salary of $240,000.
The highest paid superintendent in Colorado is Jason Glass of Jefferson County Public Schools, who was hired last July at an annual salary of $265,000.
At the district in Cincinnati, Tucker earns a base salary of $145,000, according to a local news outlet there.
“It's very difficult for us to say, `All of a sudden, by the way, we want you to work for far less than other leaders have in this district,'” Ray said at the board meeting. “I would reference that our previous permanent superintendent was brought on for $273,715. Just that notion alone should tell you that we have a man of integrity that recognizes it's not about money.”
At a special meeting on April 5, the seven school board members voted unanimously to hire Tucker after a months-long nationwide search.
Born and raised in northeastern Arkansas, Tucker served 27 years in the Kansas and Ohio public school systems as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal and director of secondary curriculum, according to his website, www.tstucker.me. In 2015, he was named superintendent of the Princeton City School District, serving 5,633 students.
Tucker was named National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators in 2016 and the National Alliance of Black School Educators in 2013. In 2012, he helped pass an incremental levy and no-new taxes $40 million bond issue, according to his bio on DCSD's website. He was the first superintendent in Ohio to attempt and pass an incremental levy and bond issue on a single ballot.
Many community members who watched Tucker speak at forums and during public interviews applauded the board's selection, lauding Tucker for his driven demeanor and student-centered mentality.
“He obviously looks at the whole child and the best interest of each child,” said parent Kristin DeBeer. “He just has an aura about him that makes me feel like he will be able to manage conflict with authority but also understanding and patience.”
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