School Superintendent Given New Contract

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The Payson Unified School District this week approved a $100,000 contract without dental insurance for the superintendent one year before it had to.

The board approved the item on the consent agenda following two executive sessions to discuss the matter.

Salaries for both Superintendent Casey O’Brien and Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Bobette Tomerlin remained the same, although medical benefits changed. The board approved Tomerlin’s one-year, $80,000 contract at a previous board meeting.

Neither of the two administrators will receive district-paid dental insurance. Previously, some district employees said it was unfair that the two top paid administrators would keep the insurance after other employees lost theirs in a move to balance the district’s projected $800,000 shortfall.

O’Brien’s two-year contract expanded from two-and-a-half pages to nearly five pages, although a slightly larger font could account for some of the difference.

Few fundamental differences appear. Instead, more detail appears in the existing clauses. For instance, the section describing O’Brien’s duties expanded from one short paragraph to six, one of them an outline with six subsections.

The old contract’s sole duties paragraph simply stated that O’Brien had to complete his job in accordance with governing board policy, state and federal law.

The new contract directs him to organize staff as he sees fit, gives him the responsibility of recommending to the board the hiring, firing and transferring of personnel, and requires the board to refer “all criticisms, complaints and suggestions” to O’Brien. The remaining paragraphs mostly outline the necessity of meeting state, federal and district standards.

Some of the language demonstrates the board’s growing comfort with O’Brien. The previous contract’s evaluation section focused on potential errors during review, while the new contract directs the board to focus on “extraordinary achievements or awards” if contemplating a new contract and salary.

A written evaluation is no longer required, although the board will review O’Brien’s performance each December and hold an “informal conference” to review progress each March.

The old contract required an annual review during an executive session.

This contract also includes a clause requiring the superintendent to notify the board if he starts a new job search. He will also present goals and objectives to the board before July.

Now, O’Brien’s contract officially installs him as the public relations liaison, a duty he already performed. However, the old contract did not have that explicit paragraph.

Both Tomerlin and O’Brien will continue to receive $41 monthly for a cell phone allowance, as well as car allowances — $200 per month and $5,000 annually, respectively.

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