In a 5-2 vote, the Washoe County School Board approved a controversial contract with Superintendent Traci Davis after nearly four months of negotiations. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey was there.
The contract will give Davis a base pay of $238,000, the same as her predecessor Pedro Martinez, and more than $70,000 in benefits, including backpay, a vehicle allowance and attorney's fees.
Davis says the contract is fair.
"I haven't been paid as a superintendent for over 14 months, so this isn't like, oh, all of a sudden I came up with this idea," she says.
Davis was appointed interim superintendent in October of last year and officially assumed the title this summer. The board elected not to conduct a national search and to tap Davis instead, which raised concerns in the community.
The two most contested parts of her compensation package are, one, the backpay of $58,000, and two, a generous vehicle allowance. Davis will get $800 a month and gas mileage to use her private car instead of a district vehicle.
The board received a flurry of disapproval during public comment from residents like Cleo Straight, Zach Rebeckus and Andra Murray.
"It seems that we should really be putting the emphasis of our moneys onto the students. Right now, our students are lacking."
"Our schools are so overcrowded; we have children learning in mobile homes that don't have air conditioning or heaters."
"All I urge you to do is be a little more fiscally responsibly and not put all the money on the table up front."
Michael Malloy, board counsel for the district, defended Davis' compensation as comparable to other school districts of the same size.
"The consensus is that the main thing that impacts favorably or unfavorably student academic performance is the stability of the superintendent position," he says. "So it's good to have someone and to know what you're sticking with, and there's a price to be paid for that."
Malloy says unlike previous superintendent contracts, there will be no automatic extension past the agreement, which expires in June 2018.