South Whidbey School District Superintendent Jo Moccia received her third annual raise and a contract extension to 2020 at a School Board workshop on Wednesday night.
The decision wasn’t without objection. Board Director Damian Greene abstained from voting for the 3.15 percent or $5,000 salary hike because he disagrees with the board’s ability to approve raises for the superintendent on a yearly basis. It’s a position he’s held since joining the board in 2012. Greene was also frustrated that the district is closing Langley Middle School, but still has the ability to give raises.
Greene, however, gave Moccia positive reviews for her performance.
“I’m glad you’re here and I’m glad you’re doing a good job,” Greene said.
Moccia received a $2,500 bump in 2014, followed by a $13,000 increase in 2015. In June 2016, the board gave Moccia and Assistant Superintendent of Business Dan Poolman a 6.8 percent raise just a week after administrators cut 6.5 positions in the district.
Moccia’s base salary is now $163,000. She is still the lowest paid superintendent on Whidbey Island. Though Coupeville School District has a smaller enrollment than South Whidbey, Superintendent Jim Shank’s salary this school year was $163,105. Oak Harbor School District Superintendent Lance Gibbon’s currently makes $177,622.
Moccia said every employee in the district, except the superintendent, gets annual raises based on a salary schedule. Because her position is not on the schedule, the board decides when and if a raise is merited.
Moccia also said the district is closing the middle school because its enrollment is declining, not because “we don’t have money.” In previous stories published by The Record, however, administrators — including Moccia — made it clear that finances were a major factor in decision, that the district would either close the school or be forced to cut nearly a dozen teaching positions.
Board Director Shawn Nowlin thought Moccia was deserving of the raise because she navigated through a complicated school year with things both to celebrate and situations that caused heartache. Board Chairwoman Linda Racicot added that South Whidbey has all the same complexities as a larger district, but that the staff often have to multi-task to cover the workload.
She also said it is typical for other boards to give superintendents raises on an annual basis.