School Board Approves Harris’ Pay Hike

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Columbus School Board Members approved a new contract today (yesterday) calling for pay raises for Schools Superintendent Gene Harris that would make her the third highest paid Ohio schools superintendent. One board member however, voted no to the new contract.

School board member Mike Wiles objected to Harris’ automatic raises without performance evaluations.

“My biggest problem was any raises going forward for everybody in the district, is that it has to be tied to performance. We have to have performance driven results and the only way you’re going to do that is to put it in their contract, explained Wiles.

Harris will receive a 4 percent pay increase because she deferred last year’s raise due to the poor economy. She would also get a 4% raise for next school year. The last 3 years of her contract would include 3% pay raises in her base salary. That would top off at close to $204,000 for the 2013-2014 school year. Only superintendents in Cleveland and Cincinnati make more money.

No audience member opposed Harris raise. Four business and community leaders addressed the board in support of them. President and CEO of St. Stephens Community House, Michelle Mills.

“We know what we have here in the city of Columbus and that’s strong leadership. That leadership for the school district permeates throughout the community, throughout the city. And we need to highly reward, and respect and appreciate leadership that we have,” said Mills.

Board president Carol Perkins says the pay raise represents fair compensation for Harris.

“We took a look at what is going on for that position around the country in terms of the market value. If as a community we want to be able to retain talent and leadership we have to take that under consideration in terms of what the market value is for the position,” Perkins explained.

Perkins says Harris’ leadership gets results in the district.

“Keep in mind at the end of this year, she will have served this district for 10 years. And I think the community really appreciates all the work that she has done to help move our students forward in terms of graduation and being able to move us from academic emergency to continuous improvement,” Perkins added.

Perkins added that board members will discuss a performance based bonus for Harris in September.