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Jeffco board approves lower pay for new superintendent

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Divided board approves a $60,000 reduction in McMinimee’s salary

By Daniel Laverty

After heated debate and public comment, the Jeffco Board of Education approved a contract for its new superintendent at last Thursday’s regular business meeting, lowering the base salary $60,000 from the salary advertised for the position.

If Daniel McMinimee signs the three-year contract, he will be paid an annual base salary of $220,000, reimbursed $20,000 for retirement benefits and be eligible for up to $40,000 in performance-based pay.
The board had advertised the starting annual salary at $280,000, not including benefits, but that salary had met with opposition from community members.

Before being selected as the board’s lone finalist May 10, McMinimee was the assistant superintendent of secondary education for Douglas County Schools.

The contract was approved on a 3-2 vote, with board members Julie Williams, Ken Witt and John Newkirk voting yes, and board members

Lesley Dahlkemper and Jill Fellman voting no.
If McMinimee signs the contract, the board will approve it at its June 19 meeting. McMinimee, who did not attend the meeting, will start July 1.

Public comment
Thursday’s meeting drew hundreds of Jeffco community members.
 “I’m happy with the process and the selection (of McMinimee),” said Steve Dorman. “(But) I’m not as pleased with the terms (of the contract); $280,000 for someone who has not served as a superintendent seems a bit excessive.”

Dorman said that more of McMinimee’s salary should be tied to his performance.

 “It’s an outrageous amount to pay an unproven finalist,” said Jeffco resident Bini Abbott. “Why couldn’t the base pay be $200,000 and then use the additional $80,000 to help fund full-day kindergarten to help more of our kids?”

Jeffco resident Michael Clark urged the board to revisit its search.
 “We need to be more fiscally responsible and offer a contract that’s more in line with (former Superintendent Dr. Cindy) Stevenson,” he said. Stevenson’s base salary was roughly $205,000 during her last year with Jeffco.

During board discussion, Dahlkemper and Fellman both suggested contract models that would pay a $200,000 base and offer $20,000 in performance incentives. The board voted the idea down 3-2.

 “You’ve taken a number that was advertised for months and attracted a good group of candidates and are changing it at the last minute,” Newkirk said.

A heated crowd
Overflow crowds and auxiliary hearing rooms are becoming the norm for Jeffco school board meetings. Despite the rainy weather, hundreds lined up outside the Education Center for a seat in the boardroom.

Two audience members were escorted out by district security during the meeting because they were shouting. Witt used his gavel multiple times to control the crowd. District security estimated that more than 700 people attended.

McMinimee replaces Stevenson, who spent 12 years as Jeffco’s superintendent. She left the position at the end of February amid friction with the conservative majority on the school board. Stevenson now is the director of a leadership initiative for the Colorado Association of School Executives.

McMinimee has teaching experience at all levels from elementary to college. He received a master’s in education degree from Oregon State University.

The next Jeffco Board of Education meeting is June 19 at the Jeffco Education Center, 1829 Denver West Drive, Building 27, in Golden. For more information, visit www.jeffcopublicschools.org.

Contact Daniel Laverty at 303-350-1042 or Daniel@evergreenco.com. Check HighTimberTimes.com for updates and breaking news. Follow Daniel on Twitter @LavertyReports.