Thursday night, the Board of Education gave Superintendent Jerome Belair a “glowing” report for his annual evaluation, extended his contract until 2015 and gave him a four percent pay increase.
The Board of Education reviews itself and the superintendent at the end of every school year, and can set the salary for the superintendent at whatever it wants. This year, as has been the practice, the board gave Belair the same raise all of the district’s administrators received, four percent, which will increase his annual salary from $198,442 to $206,380.
“I think this board does what is correct, not what is politically expedient,” Board of Education Chairwoman Kathleen McCarty said. “And what is the right thing to do. And that’s what we did tonight.”
McCarty said Belair has saved the district “millions of dollars” in the last year by and by reaching a that gives a 1.75 percent raise in the first year but comes with concessions in the teachers' health insurance plan. McCarty said Belair's raise was a small amount of money when you consider how much money the superintendent has saved the district.
“This is a minimal amount when you look at it in the grand scope of things, it is a small amount of money,” McCarty said. “Four percent is really misleading because it is really, it is a small amount of additional money.”
The Board of Education voted 8 to 1 to extend Belair’s contract and give him a 4 percent raise. Board member Sheri Cote, a democrat, was the sole member to vote against the raise.
Belair after former superintendent Randall Collins, who was the head of Waterford’s schools for 20 years, . Belair, who was superintendent in Weston and was making more than $230,000 a year, was hired at the same salary Collins was being paid, $198,442 per year.
Belair officially took over , and was thrust in the middle of one of Waterford’s most challenging budget years. In March of 2011, , forcing the district to have to cut more
This school year, Belair strove to control the two costs that were increasing at the most significant rate: employee salaries and health insurance. In October, he negotiated that gave the town’s educators annual raises of 1.75 percent, 2 percent and 2 percent, but the contract also came with concessions from the teachers on their health insurance plan and future retirement benefits.
Belair and his staff, along with the municipal government, bid out the town’s health insurance plan in January. Last year, health insurance costs increased $1.6 million within the district – the largest increase in the school budget – under the town’s self-insured plan.
The district and the municipal government, which is all covered by the same health insurance plan, eventually agreed on a fully indemnified plan that will increase health care costs 8 percent this year, compared to more than 30 percent the year before. Belair is also in negotiations with four other bargaining groups under the Board of Education, and while the contracts of all four expired at the beginning of the month there is currently no settlement on any.
In March, the Board of Education under Belair , a 3 percent increase over last year's $42.9 million total. The board , some of which were victims of budget cuts in 2011.
McCarty said Belair has been a strong leader, and was thankful for the work he has done. She said the board gave him high marks in all the areas that they grade him in.
“The board gave a very glowing report of the superintendent of schools in all the areas we examine thoroughly,” McCarty said. “The board is very appreciative to the superintendent for many, many dollars that have been saved for the district this past year.”
Facing a tough budget year, the district’s administrators agreed to a wage That delayed their raise one year, meaning this year they will receive raises of 4 percent.
The Board of Education generally gives the superintendent the same raise the town’s administrators are given, McCarty said. McCarty also pointed out that the Board of Education did not give Belair , six months after he was hired.
Belair said the raise will not affect his ability to negotiate with the district’s unions because he is just receiving what is due to the administrators. Belair added that the town’s elected officials, which includes the first selectman, are
“All administrators went through a freeze,” Belair said. “So we were the only bargaining group. And the practice here from the board has been to align the central office administrators with the (administrators') contract.”