Muscogee County School District superintendent David Lewis has received a 3 percent raise and a one-year extension of his three-year contract.
During its monthly meeting Monday night, the Muscogee County School Board voted 7-2 to increase Lewis’ annual salary from $173,400 to $178,602 and extend his contract to Dec. 31, 2020.
John Thomas of District 2 and Frank Myers of District 8 voted against the amended contract, which also enriches Lewis’ retirement plan.
The previous contract says that if the superintendent chooses to voluntarily contributes to his 403(b) retirement plan, MCSD will match the sums contributed up to a maximum of 3 percent of his salary or $5,000, whichever is less. The amended contract says simply that MCSD will contribute $5,000 per year to his 403(b) retirement plan.
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During last December’s meeting, the nine-member board voted 6-2 to give Lewis a 2 percent raise on his $170,000 salary, amounting to an extra $3,400 per year. Myers and Thomas voted no but didn’t explain why. Mark Cantrell of District 6 was absent then.
It was Lewis’ first raise since the board hired him in July 2013 from Polk County, Fla., where he was an associate superintendent. The board also extended Lewis’ three-year contract by one year, which it has done each year since he was hired. Three years is the maximum length state law allows for a superintendent’s contract.
His compensation package also includes health and retirement benefits, a car allowance of $600 per month and professional association expenses.
Thomas didn’t speak against the superintendent’s raise and contract extension during Monday night’s meeting, but he explained his thinking in an email to the Ledger-Enquirer last Tuesday, His listed reasons include Lewis’ handling of “the Montravious Thomas situation,” the bus driver shortage, and the presence of failing schools in the district.
“Dr. Lewis’ contract still has two years left on it,” Thomas wrote. “There is no urgency for a vote this month. I am going to appeal to other board members to not be rushed into a hasty decision.”
That’s what Myers did during the meeting.
“If we don’t act as a board tonight, Dr. Lewis keeps his job at the same rate of pay,” Myers said. “That would be preferable to me than what’s been proposed. Recently, the transportation situation has been a real wake-up call for me. The truth is, we still have almost 50 percent of our schools making either a D or an F on the CCRPI. And if passed, this raise would be higher than the raise, by percentage, that our teachers are getting this year. That just seems backward.”
And that prompted District 7 Cathy Williams to say, “I just can’t let that sit.”
Williams asserted, if you compare Lewis’ salary to superintendents of similar school districts in Georgia, as well as the length of his service in MCSD, then you should realize “we’re getting a deal, folks. ... I plan on supporting it and would support more if it had been put forward.”