School Committee approves contract extension for Jenkins

New deal provides larger base salary, fewer bonuses

By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.

The Winthrop School Committee announced last night that they had reached an agreement with Winthrop Superintendent of Schools Steve Jenkins on a contract extension through the 2010 school year, that would also re-structure his salary and benefits and provide him with a raise. Jenkins’ existing deal was due to expire in June 2008.

The new pact runs through June 30, 2010, with a total compensation package of $158,124.25. The new salary figure, which appears to be a sharp increase from his previous base pay of $121,762, was arrived at by making a salary adjustment from the $121,762 to $133,000. On top of that the contract adds a 4.5 percent pay increase for 2008, which is identical to the 4.5 percent raise the teachers and staff received in their contract settlement and then reallocates several bonus items in the previous deal, into the new base salary (see full story in next week’s Sun Transcript for a breakdown of all bonuses).

“When you add up all of the pay and bonuses the superintendent had received last year and add in the money he received from selling back some unused vacation time, we spent a little over $150,000 in compensation for the superintendent this (current fiscal) year, so the actual increase in pay and benefits from 2007 to 2008, is not as sharp as it looks,” said School Committee Chairwoman Pat Milano. “We’ve just moved that money to his salary line, instead of paying him the extra bonuses for travel expenses, professional development and things like that.”

Milano explained that the move by the School Committee, which was under no obligation to restructure the contract was made for a couple of reasons.

“First, it was important for us to take the lead and explain to the public why we’re doing what we’re doing,” said Milano. “In the past, we’ve never really talked that much about the specifics of superintendent contracts, but with the new emphasis on transparency in the new town government, we thought it was important for us to explain the contract and what it means for the school district.”

Milano said that part of the reason for making the move to sign Jenkins to an extension is that he has been solicited by other school districts looking for new superintendents, many of which are offering much higher salaries to start.

“There are something like 40 school districts right now that are looking for superintendents,” said Milano. “Some of them are offering to pay as much as $180,000 a year, and we just thought that from the standpoint of stability and continuity, it made sense for us to talk with the Superintendent about an extension.”

Additionally, Milano said that Jenkins expressed to the School Committee that he is looking at this next contract as his last contract before retirement. With that in mind, Jenkins was interested in maximizing the amount of his compensation that is included in his salary, since bonuses and expenses are not included in the formula for determining retirement benefits.

“There was also the consideration, from our standpoint, that if we didn’t extend his contract, we would run the risk of losing him and in order to replace a superintendent in this market, we felt we’d have to advertise the position at at least $140,000 to start, plus benefits, plus the cost of hiring a search consultant to help us find a new superintendent,” said Milano.

The new deal does include additional protections for the school department, to protect against the Superintendent leaving early to accept another superintendent’s position. The penalty for early termination of the contract with less than six months notice was increased to one-third of one year’s salary, meaning that another school department would have to offer Jenkins significantly more money, in order to make the prospect of leaving seem attractive, from a financial standpoint.

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