School Board votes to renew superintendent’s contract though 2020, keeps big raise in place

Earlier this month the Snoqualmie Valley School Board voted unanimously to renew Superintendent Aune’s three-year contract, extending though the 2019-20 school year.

Aune was hired to head the Snoqualmie Valley School District in 2005. This was the [approximate] 12th time the board voted to renew his three-year contract by extending it for an additional year.

At the April 6th meeting the board discussed how Aune’s yearly evaluation, which is done privately in an executive session, had gone very well, with the SVSD leader meeting or exceeding all evaluation markers.

Before voting, the board discussed whether the contract that they were considering extending should be attached to their agenda for public access. Board member Simpson noted support for attaching documents to all their agenda items so that the public better understands the board’s processes used for decision-making, increasing transparency and possibly alleviating public questions. She commented that superintendent’s contracts are public documents, so she struggled with approving something that had not been shared with the public.

Board members then discussed the process for evaluating Aune’s performance, which influences the decision for a contract renewal. The process involves an assessment of performance criteria and goals set the previous year, along with the superintendent’s self-evaluation of the criteria.

Board Vice President MacLean mentioned the process being thorough, with the board spending a lot of time on it, but said the evaluation is not something done in a public meeting per state law.

Board President Doy said that during the private review, Superintendent Aune met or exceeded evaluation criteria for all five board members. He said the evaluation was very positive and he wanted Aune’s continued leadership, saying he had been performing “excellently” for 12 years.

Doy said this contract renewal was simply a change of duration, not compensation, and the current contract had been readily available for the public for the twelve months – so he did not see a transparency issue. He agreed to attach the new contract to a future meeting agenda once it was signed and finalized.

Doy did not state, though, that the SVSD superintendent contract is typically only available through a public information request. It is not posted on the district’s website like the teacher’s contract, but this appears to be common practice of many school districts.

Superintendent Aune’s current contract (2016-17) contains a $212,930 salary for 222 days of work, a stipend for extra work related to new school projects stemming from the 2015 voter approved capital construction bond, a $2500 annual raise if he receives his doctorate and an annual salary increase determined by the board.

State records show Aune’s salary for the prior [2015-16] school year at $204,500. The five years before that (2010-11 though 2014-15) his salary ranged between $149,000 and $155,000. Past school board agendas and podcasts indicate the board approved renewing the superintendent’s contract – that subsequently contained the large $50,000 raise – on January 22, 2015. Per the meeting podcast, no public discussion of the contract terms, evaluation or the salary increase occurred.

The raise put his salary closer to that of neighboring, larger school district superintendents and happened after multiple years without a sizable increase. Along with stipends, bonuses and benefits, his 2015-16 total compensation of $256,00 propelled Aune to one of the highest compensated superintendents in Washington State – landing in the top 5%.

In Washington State, the average superintendent salary was approximately $133,000 in 2015-16 (for the 266 districts that reported the data).  There are 295 school districts statewide. Snoqualmie Valley was the 47th largest in 2017.

 

 

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