Rochester School Board approves three-year contract for Muñoz
The Rochester School Board unanimously approved a three-year contract extension Tuesday for Superintendent Michael Muñoz that will boost his base pay about 7 percent over the length of the term.
The contract raises Muñoz's salary from $194,000 this year to $200,000 starting in July 2014. It then would increase to $204,000 for the 2014-2015 school year and then to $208,000 for the 2016-2017 school year. But it also contains a clause that allows for as much as $10,000 annually in performance pay for what it describes as "superior performance."
Board members said the salary bumps put Muñoz's salary in line with those of other metro-area superintendents who led districts comparable to Rochester.
"We're very pleased with the progress (of the district) since we hired him," said Board Chairman Gary Smith, who, along with board members Anne Becker and Deborah Sellinger, negotiated the new deal with Muñoz.
After the meeting, Muñoz said he appreciated the board's vote of confidence and has looked forward to moving the district forward under its new strategic plan .
"I am happy, and its shows that they have confidence in my abilities to lead this district, and that's all the comment I'll make," Muñoz said.
The new contract was ratified four months into Muñoz's third year as superintendent. It was accompanied by statements of praise from board members, who extolled the work Muñoz has done so far.
"I look forward to three, four more years, your retirement party for you here," board member Terry Throndson said. "This school board has done some good things, and with the leadership of Mr. Muñoz and all us working together — the last couple of years this school district has really turned around."
Officials say the contract includes a new section that spells out a detailed process the board must follow should it decide to terminate the superintendent for cause before the end of his three-year term. It says, if the board decides to fire the superintendent during his contract term, Muñoz can seek a hearing before an arbitrator.
The arbitrator's decision would be "final and binding," "subject to the normal judicial review of arbitration decisions as provided by law." The contract also states the superintendent could be suspended with pay "pending the final determination by the arbitrator."
Smith said the language was intended to provide Muñoz some protections while meeting the board's fiduciary duty to the district and its taxpayers.
"Because he's worked with us, he wanted a little bit of protection if there was some sort of a change in the board and that would likely only happen if for some reason we were disenchanted or the community was disenchanted," Smith said.
The language contemplates a scenario that was hard to imagine Tuesday, given the tone and tenor of the remarks made by board members. Smith cited Muñoz's visibility in the community since taking over more than two years ago, as well as the new strategic plan that Rochester schools have begun to operate under.
"He has engaged with the community, and he's been doing it ever since," Smith said.
The contract also allows Muñoz to earn 25 days of annual paid vacation each contract year. It credits him with 30 days of sick leave. It obligates the school district to pay for a portion of the superintendent's health and dental insurance premiums equal to the highest portion paid by the district for any other district employee.