DeKalb school’s Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson will receive a pay hike of $76,000 after a controversial vote by the Board of Education.
The board, by a vote of 6-3, approved Tyson’s new salary of $240,000, with an annual travel allowance of $6,000 and a $24,000 personal expense account.
Board members Nancy Jester, Donna Edler, and Don McChesney voted against the salary increase on Jan. 18.
Before the new salary was approved, Jester led an unsuccessful board vote to table the issue.
She said she received the details of the contract for the first time at the meeting. Jester and Edler, who defeated incumbents in November, were both seated on the board in January.
“There were several parameters here that were not palatable for me,” Jester said.
Tyson, for her part, said that the compensation is deserved because it brings “me in line with other area school districts.”
The new contract covers Tyson’s employment for 18 months, ending June 30 of next year. A clause in the contract states that the board can “unilaterally terminate this amended contract for the Board’s convenience at any time.”
If the contract is canceled by the board in that way, Tyson would receive her previous deputy superintendent’s salary of nearly $164,000.
The vote on Tyson’s salary comes as the district faces a multi-million dollar deficit, school redistricting and staff furloughs.
In fact, the board originally approved the Tyson’s new salary at a December meeting, before new members were seated. However, state law required a public hearing on the issue because of the district’s furloughs.
The DeKalb school system is searching for a new superintendent to replace former head Crawford Lewis, who is facing a criminal indictment related to corruption in the district.
Tyson’s contract is expected to keep her on board to help with the transition after a new superintendent is hired, district officials said.
David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators, a teachers’ interest group, said the organization had not taken an official position on the raise, but that members seemed not to oppose it.
“There was not any universal outrage about an increase to what she is making,” he said.
Jennifer Hatfield, a former DeKalb schools educator, spoke publically about her opposition to Tyson’s increased salary. “This county cannot afford to increase her pay,” Hatfield said.
Jester said that the vote on the salary increase should have been delayed.
“I thought we could have tabled it,” she said. “You win some; you lose some.”