GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The Grand Rapids Public School Board of Education approved a three-year contract with Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal on Monday evening.
Weatherall Neal has been well-received by the GRPS community since she took over for Dr. Bernard Taylor in January 2012. She was initially installed as interim superintendent and originally told 24 Hour News 8 that she had no desire to take the job permanently.
But the school board voted in June to remove the 'interim' part of her title and offer her the position on a more permanent basis. She accepted.
"To be asked to lead the very district that I love, that I've served and this city that I love, it just really is overwhelming," said Weatherall Neal.
The full board participated in what was termed a "thorough public hiring process" beginning in the fall of 2011.
In hiring Weatherall Neal long-term, the board decided not to hire a consultant or bring in candidates from outside the district -- a move they say saved money and was legal.
"We got good consultation from the Michigan Association of School Boards," said board member Dr. Tony Baker. "We got good consultation from the Kent Intermediate School District, and we had KSD lawyers, so we knew we were within the bounds of working from within."
Board President Senita Lenear, along with members Maureen Quinn Slade and Dr. Baker were tasked to work through the details of Weatherall Neal's contract.
The terms of her contract last until June 30, 2015, but may be extended to June 2016 if the school board and Weatherall Neal so decide.
Weatherall Neal's annual salary of $165,000 is a significant decrease from Taylor's $203,000 per year, according to GRPS. Former Superintendent Bert Bleke made $155,000 per year in the 2005-2006 school year.
Weatherall Neal said she made the monetary sacrifice for the good of the district.
"We have a lot of difficult decisions to make, and I respect that, so I did not ask for more, and actually when they offered the dollar amount, I accepted. I didn't go back and forth and ask because that's just not my style," she said.
Among the highest-paid superintendents in West Michigan, Weatherall Neal's salary ranks seventh in the top eight.
Benefits include insurance, union membership dues paid by the district, an annuity, and a $6,000 annual car allowance.
The board will also reimburse Weatherall Neal for professional development and education meetings costs.
The contract also stipulates an annual performance evaluation each April. During the first two years of her contract, Weatherall Neal may only be fired for "good and just cause (moral turpitude, misconduct, dishonesty, fraud, etc.)". In the third year, the board may also fire her if they deem her "ineffective."
She's eligible for a $120,000 severance fee in the event of termination.
Superintendent salaries, courtesy GRPS:
- Rockford: $210,000
- Kalamazoo: $205,000
- Forest Hills $193,000
- Kentwood: $193,000
- Lansing: $181,000
- Muskegon: $179,000
- Saginaw: $174,000
- Wyoming: $162,000
- East GR: $158,000
- Northview: $156,000
- Godwin: $142,000
- Comstock Park: $113,000
- Godfrey Lee: $108,000
State Superintendent: $183,000
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