The Fairfax County School Board is expected to vote Thursday to extend Superintendent Daniel A. Domenech's contract until 2004 and give him a $30,000 raise, two years before his current contract expires, school sources said last night.
School Board members declined to discuss specifics of the compensation package--which was hammered out last night in a special closed session--but sources said the plan would raise Domenech's salary to $205,000 as of June. He also would be eligible for up to $30,000 in bonuses if the school system meets specific achievement goals, the sources said.
The plan reportedly has the support of the Democratic majority on the 12-member board.
Domenech was hired two years ago from Long Island, N.Y., and his contract does not expire until June 2001. The new contract would expire in June 2004. School Board members said they wanted to move early because they feared that Domenech, who is highly regarded nationally, would be snatched away by another district.
Domenech was a finalist for the top school jobs in Los Angeles and New York City before he came to Fairfax. The Los Angeles job is open, and officials there have been making inquiries here, sources said. The New York job is expected to open in 2000.
"The competition for superintendents is fierce, and there are lots of jobs open," said School Board Vice Chairman Mark H. Emery (At Large). "I think this needs to be done now to send a message to every search committee in the country that he's not available."
But the board's four Republican members said that it is too soon to offer Domenech an extension and that the decision should be left to the newly elected board, which takes office next month. Republicans gained a seat in the November election.
Board member Gary A. Reese (Sully) said board members are wrong if they think a new contract will ensure that Domenech stays in Fairfax. He noted that Domenech's predecessor, Robert Spillane, repeatedly used job offers to wrest more money from the board.
"There are those out there who say we buy peace. Well, I don't think they've bought peace," Reese said.
Reese, who said he and other GOP members stormed out of the session, added that it's too early to assess Domenech's performance.
"I don't think you can possibly see what's been accomplished in just two years," Reese said. "I think looking after three years is more reasonable."
But Emery said Domenech has done an excellent job, including boosting the academic achievement of minority students.
"For the stability of the system and the county, we need the superintendent here to see things through," Emery said.