Education

Iowa City schools approves new superintendent contract with no raise

Days allotted for Murley to work outside district remain few, no pay increase

Iowa City school district superintendent Stephen Murley does paperwork Thursday, July 1, 2010 in his office in Iowa City. (Gazette file photo)
Iowa City school district superintendent Stephen Murley does paperwork Thursday, July 1, 2010 in his office in Iowa City. (Gazette file photo)

IOWA CITY — The Iowa City school board approved a new three-year contract without a raise for Superintendent Stephen Murley on Tuesday.

The contract, approved in a 4-1 vote, includes an annual base salary of $226,000, the same rate Murley was paid last year, that can be renegotiated annually.

His total compensation package is valued at $320,368, which includes a vehicle allowance and deferred compensation package.

School board members Paul Roesler, Janet Godwin, JP Claussen and Shawn Eyestone voted in favor of the contract, while Phil Hemingway dissented. Ruthina Malone and Lori Roetlin were absent.

During the meeting, Hemingway said he had misgivings about retaining Murley for several reason, including the district’s academic achievement gaps, an outstanding Department of Justice complaint regarding playground accessibility, and Murley’s recent bid for a job with the Grant Wood Area Education Agency.

“I have real concerns extending this for the length of period, which is appearing before us tonight,” Hemingway said. “And the fact that the superintendent has applied for jobs elsewhere.”

Hemingway asked that the vote be tabled but was denied.

“There’s plenty of things that need fixing, and we’re a really aggressive board, we’ve been really ambitious with the things we want to get done,” said board member Shawn Eyestone. “I don’t think we can do that without having commitment to you (Murley) and from you to make them happen.”

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Murley’s contract allows for six days of discretionary leave that can be used for personal business, including consulting. His allotted number of discretionary days were set at eight during the 2016-2017 school year and six last school year, according to his 2016 contract.

While it is not uncommon for school superintendents to work for pay outside of their districts, Murley’s consulting came under scrutiny in 2015. He moonlighted from 2012 to 2014 for a private educational company that was found to be connected to a massive bribery scandal in Chicago schools.

Murley trained Chicago principals for the company, SUPES Academy, but said he had no knowledge that then-Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett had rigged $23 million of contracts for the private company and a related organization, Synesi Associates, with plans to receive a 10 percent kickback.

Byrd-Bennett started serving a four-and-a-half year sentence in federal prison last year, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Discretionary leave will be mutually agreed upon by Murley, the school board president and vice president in July, according to the contract, for the following school year.

Murley is allowed to serve as a consultant, lecture and engage in other non-district activities as long as they do not affect his ability to perform his duties as superintendent, according to the contract. He cannot be paid for those activities without prior approval of the school board president and vice president.

Under the new contract, Murley will also receive 15 sick days per year, on top of the 131 he has already accumulated during his tenure; 12 days of holiday leave; five days of bereavement leave; and thirty days of vacation, all the same as his contract that was approved in 2016.

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

Gazette Reporter Erin Jordan contributed to this report.

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