Othello school superintendent contract renewed

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OTHELLO — Othello School District superintendent Chris Hurst was rehired for the 2018-19 school on a 3-1 vote of the Othello School Board.

Board members Rob Simmons, Mike Garza and Jenn Stevenson voted for the contract; board member Ken Johnson voted no. (Board member Tony Ashton was not at the meeting.)

“Because of some provisions in the contract that I’m not comfortable with, I’m going to vote no,” Johnson said.

“Do you want to discuss those provisions?” Simmons asked.

“I’m just not comfortable with the incentive program. And how it’s determined,” Johnson said.

Hurst’s base salary is $157,500. Simmons said board members came up with the base salary by looking at superintendent salary information from districts of similar size around the state. They included Bremerton, West Valley (Spokane), Grandview, Shelton, East Valley (Spokane), Kelso, Centralia, Aberdeen and Port Angeles.

The base salary was calculated as an average, Simmons said. There’s a $25,000 incentive for renewing the contract. There are performance incentives as well, depending on whether or not the district is, in the board’s opinion, “making reasonable progress” toward goals set by the board for student achievement and district operation. There are three of those, and Hurst is eligible for $7,000 in incentive pay for each, a total of $21,000.

The base salary is the fourth-lowest of the nine districts used by the board. If Hurst achieves all the incentives his salary will be toward the high end of that group, Simmons said. The contract and the list of other schools are available on the school’s website.

“Actually this is a two-year extension, because we made a mistake last year, and forgot to add the extension to the contract language,” Simmons said.

The contract vote followed an hour-long executive session; the superintendent’s annual evaluation was released following the executive session.

Board members receive reports on progress made and challenges facing the district throughout the year, and all of that is included in the final evaluation. For each of the areas evaluated board members can determine the superintendent meets the standard (in compliance), or meets part of the standard, but the area still needs work (in compliance with exceptions) or doesn’t meet the standard (out of compliance). Of the 20 areas evaluated, all 20 were in compliance or in compliance with exceptions, Simmons said. Progress is being made, “but we also found we need more progress to be made,” he said.

The final evaluation report had some conclusions, which Simmons read aloud. “Please make additional efforts to ensure that all stakeholders feel that they are both involved and informed in changes that affect them.

“As you are the only person that the board evaluates, and are ultimately responsible for all reports, we would like to see increased evidence of your knowledge of the content of monitoring reports.

“Progress is being made toward compliance. We recognize that it takes time to become compliant without exceptions, but we appreciate the hard work that you and your staff are putting in to improve in all areas of Executive Limitations and Ends policies.”

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