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South Whidbey School District superintendent contract to be reviewed

The South Whidbey School Board will conduct its annual review of District Superintendent Fred McCarthy's employment contract at a closed-door meeting tonight.

McCarthy's contract expires June 30, 2009, though when originally hired his contract ran until 2010.

"That's customary," said school board member Steven Scoles.

"The usual practice is to give a three-year contract, renewable about this time each year. If for some reason the board isn't happy, they can choose to not renew it and let it run out.

"That's usually a clear indication a problem exists; it sends a signal," Scoles explained.

But Scoles was quick to note that's not the case here.

"I'm very happy with Dr. McCarthy's performance and I believe the other board members feel the same," he said.

While the discussion is held in executive session, the vote in July on the contract will be public.

McCarthy is one of the highest paid public employees on South Whidbey, receiving an annual salary of $129,625.

He supervises a 60-square-mile district that served 1,807 students in 2007-08 in four traditional schools and two alternative programs. The district employs roughly 200 full-time employees and 230 staff.

McCarthy said his top five accomplishments this year included completing the district's strategic plan, finishing the facility use plan that recommended different ways to use the Primary School, adoption of listening sessions to improve communication, expanding community partnerships and implementing leadership training for key district leaders.

"My biggest disappointment is the loss of important staff positions due to reductions in force of certificated and classified staff," he said.

Other key aspects of McCarthy's contract include a full suite of benefits: medical, dental and vision, 28 days of vacation — accumulated unused vacation will be "bought back" when the superintendent retires — and 12 days of sick leave that can also be bought back. A $100,000 life insurance policy is provided and the district reimburses for any travel expenses related to official duties.

Among other benefits, the district pays the superintendent's dues for professional educational memberships for the Washington Association of School Administrators and similar organizations. Any tuition costs for board-approved learning and development training are also covered.

With prior approval of the board, McCarthy can also undertake consultive work, speaking engagements and lecturing provided they don't conflict with his main duties.

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