After a rare morning executive session on Friday, June 22, the School Committee voted 6-0 to allow Chair Chuck Robinson to conduct final negotiations with Superintendent John Doherty regarding a new contract, the basic terms of which were negotiated in the executive session and were agreed to in principle by both sides. Robinson stated that this vote superseded the salary vote taken after the extended executive session on Monday, June 18.
The contract in its entirety will be made public once signed, though Robinson shared highlights of the new deal. The superintendent now has a three-year contract with the opportunity for a one-year extension. His previous contract was for two-years with continuous rollovers. The committee will vote before June 30 of the second year whether or not to grant the fourth year. In the previous contract, no vote was needed for the rollover to occur. The new contract assumes no salary increase, bringing the superintendent’s compensation to just over $183,000, though this may be revisited by the committee after collective bargaining is completed. It provides 25 days of vacation, limiting unused vacation rollover to five days. If the superintendent is directed by the chair to not use vacation, the superintendent can be compensated for the time lost. This provision limits the potential liability for the district to 30 days.
School Committee member Nick Boivin, who described the new contract as “a win for both sides,” highlighted that he was pleased about the date certain of the end of the contract and that the committee had to vote for an extension. He also liked that the compensation was flat and that the vacation was clarified. Vice Chair Elaine Webb stated that she was “excited about how we will be able to move forward in the district under Dr. Doherty’s leadership.”
Resident Rebecca Liberman questioned the committee about the three-year term of the contract not being tied to specific goals and not being dependent upon performance. Robinson responded that three-year contracts were standard the public sector and that termination could only be enacted for cause. Liberman asked if additional Office for Civil Rights violations would constitute cause. Robinson responded that he did not know and that it would be a question for legal counsel if that situation were to arise. Webb pointed out that this meeting was about the contract only, “Performance is a separate issue.” Webb added. School Committee member Linda Snow Dockser reminded Liberman, “We still will have the evaluation process each year.”
The School Committee adjourned at 8:05 am.