Less vacation time for new Fairfax superintendent

When incoming Fairfax County superintendent Karen Garza begins her term July 1, she will be paid $265,000 a year through June 30, 2017, according to a copy of her contract.

Garza will replace Jack D. Dale, whose nine-year tenure ends in about a month. Since early May, Dale has been at home recuperating from emergency cardiovascular surgery after suffering an aortic aneurysm at work.

Garza, a native Texan, has been serving as the superintendent of the Lubbock Independent School District since 2009, and this year made $235,000 presiding over the district’s 30,000 students.

She will begin her transition during the next two weeks to the top job in Fairfax, where she will oversee a school system of 181,500 students.

A comparison of Garza’s contract with Dale’s previous contracts found that Dale made less in his first years as superintendent but accrued more vacation time.

Garza’s compensation package this year includes her base pay, plus about $65,000 in deferred compensation and retirement contributions. But she will have 15 days of vacation a year compared with Dale’s 26 days.

Dale’s first contract with Fairfax, signed in 2004, showed that he made $237,000 in base salary plus about $57,000 in deferred compensation and retirement contributions.

In 2006, Dale signed a second contract that increased his base salary to $266,292 and increased his deferred compensation and retirement benefits to about $60,500 a year. Dale signed a third contract in June 2009 that raised his base salary to $292,469 and $65,500 in deferred compensation and retirement benefits.

According to Garza’s contract, the Fairfax School Board will give her $25,000 to cover moving costs for the 1,600-mile trek from West Texas to Northern Virginia. The school system will reimburse Garza up to $5,000 a month in temporary housing during the move for up to 90 days. Once settled, she will receive a $2,000 a month housing allowance every year.

Like Dale, Garza will receive the school system’s health, life and disability insurance plus a car for business and personal use.

Garza’s compensation package is comparable to what other school division leaders make in the Washington region.

When Joshua Starr was hired as superintendent of Montgomery County schools in 2011, he signed a contract worth $250,000 a year plus $35,000 in deferred compensation, $18,750 in retirement contributions and 25 days of vacation.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.
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