Superintendent McCarthy’s contract is unanimously renewed

Not a penny more, not a penny less.

School District Superintendent Fred McCarthy had his contract renewed by the South Whidbey School Board on Thursday, without a raise in pay.

McCarthy is one of the highest paid public employees on South Whidbey, receiving an annual salary of $133,775.

In the midst of the fiscal crisis the district is experiencing caused by declining enrollment and loss of state funding, rumors swirled that McCarthy would get a big pay raise, even as teachers and staff are being laid off.

But the only change is a two-year extension of the contract that will last until the year 2012. 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 the contract and let it run out.

The board vote was unanimous.

“We did a complete evaluation of Dr. McCarthy’s job evaluation and found he had met the tasks the board had set,” said board member Leigh Anderson.

Board member Steven Scoles agreed.

“The challenges we’re facing are being met in a most responsible manner,” he said.

Other key aspects of McCarthy’s contract include a full suite of benefits: medical, dental and vision, 30 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 him 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 undertake consultive work, speaking engagements and lecturing, provided they don’t conflict with his main duties.

McCarthy supervises a 60 square-mile district that served 1,750 students in 2007-08 in four traditional schools and two alternative programs. The district employs roughly 190 full time employees and 220 staff.

McCarthy’s biggest challenge in the years ahead revolves around declining enrollment.

There were 86 fewer students this year than last and the district is budgeting a further drop of 56 next year. The state pays the district about $5,300 per student, so the budget impact grows as the numbers decline.

Looking ahead, the overall number of students enrolled will drop from 1,756 as of the last day of school, to 1,612 in the 2009-10 school year.

Those numbers reflect a continuing demographic trend; 10 years ago there was an all-time high of 2,263 students in public schools on the South End.

Following the board vote, members conducted an all-day session on how best to restructure the district to meet the fiscal crisis.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or jvanderford@southwhidbey

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