Superintendent Bonus Plan Withdrawn After December Approval

Superintendent Bonus Plan Withdrawn After December Approval
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NEWARK — A month after approving the addition of incentivized goals to Superintendent Lou Taylor’s contract, officials now say no changes are being made.

Despite a closed session vote to add an addendum to Taylor’s contract in December, school board members said this week a plan for incentivized goals is no longer going forward. Taylor is currently in his second four-year term as Worcester’s superintendent.

“I am humbled and honored that the Board expressed a desire to further incentivize the work I am doing as superintendent; however, since I stepped into this role in 2016, I have maintained that any adjustments to my compensation should remain in lockstep with our associations,” Taylor said in a statement. “While I may hold the title of superintendent, I know that the success we experience is a direct result of our team – our leaders, teachers, and staff.”

During the closed session portion of its December meeting, the Worcester County Board of Education voted to add an addendum to the superintendent’s contract that includes incentivized goals. When the board returned to open session, Elena McComas, then president of the board, reported that in personnel matters discussed during the closed session, a motion had been made by Board member Donald Smack and seconded by Board member Todd Ferrante to add an addendum to Taylor’s contract that included goals that if reached would result in a bonus payment.

When asked for additional information about the December decision, Coordinator of Public Relations and Special Programs Carrie Sterrs said the board voted to add an addendum to the superintendent’s contract that includes incentivized goals. When asked if those goals were to address an area Worcester County Public Schools was not performing well in, Sterrs said they were not.

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“…this list is not driven by a specific shortcoming(s) within the school system, but these are areas of focus that the Board wishes the Superintendent to keep at the forefront of his efforts,” she said.

There were 10 goals on the list, the first of which was to develop an FY 24 operating budget that meets the needs of the school system. The second goal on the list was to work with the board of education to promote and secure the funding needed for the FY24 budget. The third goal on the list was to deliver a clean operating and federal program audit with no findings. Other items that made the list included completing the addition to Stephen Decatur Middle School on schedule and on budget, completing a feasibility study for Buckingham Elementary School, negotiating with the teachers and support staff associations that “preserves labor peace,” implementing a process to address the requirements of the new Blueprint legislation and working with bus contractors.

When asked if the addendum resulted in a potential pay raise for the superintendent, Sterrs asked The Dispatch to submit a Public Information Act request for the addendum. She later added that the document had not yet been drafted and it would be made available once it was.

This week, Sterrs said that at the request of Taylor the addendum was no longer moving forward. She said Ferrante, who is now the board president, was reaching out to the board’s attorney to find out if the motion made last month needed to be rescinded.

“As a Board, we recognize the difficulty of navigating a school system through the incredible amount of change we have experienced. Superintendent Taylor has demonstrated ingenuity and leadership both through the challenges of the pandemic, and now with the challenges of implementing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” Ferrante said in a statement. “We felt it was only right that we at least discuss as a Board ways we could potentially incentivize this continued success; however, we respect Mr. Taylor’s desire to show solidarity and support to our associations by declining any incentives at this time.”

Taylor’s current contract was approved in 2021, when his salary was increased from $186,023 to $210,000. At the time, he expressed a commitment to keeping his salary adjustments in lockstep with those of teachers and support staff.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.