Herron pay comparable with former W-JCC superintendent

Williamsburg-James City County Schools new superintendent's annual pay tops $200,000, more than where the division's former CEO started.

When she signed her nine-page contract after the School Board meeting Feb. 7, Olwen Herron was promoted from acting superintendent of the school division.

Both of W-JCC's last two superintendents were new to the CEO position, promoted from lesser roles in their respective administrations.

Steve Constantino, W-JCC's superintendent from 2011-2016, came from the deputy superintendent position in Cobb County, Ga. Herron was deputy to Constantino in W-JCC until his resignation in August, when she became acting superintendent.

When she was hired Feb. 7, Herron agreed to a base pay of $180,000, which adds up to $204,000 annually when including a $9,000 car allowance, and the division's $15,000 contribution to a deferred compensation plan invested in an approved annuity or retirement plan.

Upon Constantino's arrival seven years earlier, his base pay was $170,000. Including his $7,800 in car allowance and $10,000 division contribution to a deferred compensation plan, his annual sum came out at $196,800.

Differences in experience as well as superintendent pay in neighboring and comparable school districts both play into contract negotiations, School Board member Jim Kelly (JCC Jamestown) said.

Negotiations

Constantino signed three contracts during his W-JCC career — his first in 2010, then a renewal in 2013 and 2015. The last contract committed him to serve until 2019, but he resigned just one year after putting ink on the page.

"Every contract is different, the goal obviously is to be fair to both the employee as well as to the taxpayer," Kelly said. "Whenever we approach those negotiations, we look at what comparable salary and benefits for superintendents are, and we want to make sure we include all of that in the contract."

Kelly was elected to the board in 2010, serving through Constantino's entire tenure. He said when they were looking to hire in 2010 Constantino's national reputation from his consulting and his books, set him apart.

Constantino came to Williamsburg from a school district more than 10.5 times larger than W-JCC, with 107,000 students compared to W-JCC's roughly 10,000 students at the time.

Herron came to Williamsburg in 2012 from Sugar Land, Texas where she was the chief academic officer; the district had 69,000 students in 2011. She spent 2012-2016 as deputy superintendent where she saw the division grow from 10,600 students to where it is now at 11,431.

"I'm very pleased with the contract; I think it's very fair for someone in their first year as a superintendent," Herron said.

Other benefits

As for raises, the contract states the superintendent is to receive nothing less than the board gives to other division employees. Over the course of his tenure, Constantino watched his base salary rise to $187,638, a 10 percent increase over where he started.

When adding in the retirement account contribution of $24,000 and $12,000 car allowance, Constantino's last contract, signed in 2015, left him with $223,368 in annual pay.

Each superintendent's contract allowed for $2,500 reimbursements for job-related costs, and in addition to the car allowance, both received a charge card to pay for gas for business-related travel.

For both, the board agreed to pay the premium for the superintendent's health and life insurance just as it does for teachers.

As for time off, Constantino started at 1.67 days accrued each month and was awarded 2.5 days accrued monthly in his last contract. Herron gets two days of leave each month, and both accrued one sick day each month.

Renewal, or not

Herron's contract ends June 30, 2020, one year after Constantino's last contract would have expired.

When he resigned in August, Constantino gave up the rest of his salary and benefits, including unused vacation days. Herron's contract is written in the same way, but she doesn't see herself leaving.

"I plan to be here as long as the school board wants me here," Herron said. "One of the advantages of being here already is I'm already committed to the system. I think one thing the school board wanted was continuity and I'm dedicated to doing that, to making a new strategic plan and being here to see it through to fruition."

The board also has the power to end her contract early for any reason, in which case she's entitled to either one year's salary or pay for the remainder of time on the contract, if it's less than one year.

When the board voted to approve Herron's contract, all seven members voted in favor of her appointment, and each expressed happiness with the decision during board comments.

Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.

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