After an acrimonious debate, the Fairfax County School Board approved a four-year contract and $30,000 pay raise last night for Superintendent Daniel A. Domenech.
In exchange for the package, Domenech has promised the board that he will remain in Fairfax for the duration of the contract and that he will remove himself from consideration for any other jobs.
Board members said the new contract will mean stability for the 156,000-student system and will allow Domenech to continue with his plan for raising standards and boosting academic achievement.
"We have made tremendous progress under this superintendent . . . and we need to continue with that progress," said board member Kristen J. Amundson (Mount Vernon), who was instrumental in recruiting Domenech two years ago. "This is the person that this school system needs."
Domenech's current contract does not expire until June 2001. But School Board members decided to move quickly to extend his contract after learning that several school districts, including Los Angeles, were interested in hiring him. Domenech had been a finalist for the top schools jobs in Los Angeles and New York before coming to Fairfax.
But the four Republicans on the 12-member board--all of whom voted against the new contract--argued that it is too soon to offer Domenech an extension and that the decision should be left to the newly elected board.
They complained that the pact was negotiated without their knowledge or input and said it was unfair to offer Domenech a 17 percent pay raise when the upcoming budget likely will include only a 3 percent pay raise for teachers and other school employees.
Domenech received a $16,000 pay raise in July. The board's four Republicans also voted against that pay raise. They initially voted against hiring Domenech, although in a second vote pledged to work with him.
Under the new contract, which takes effect July 1, Domenech will be paid an annual salary of $205,000 to lead the Washington area's largest school system. Beginning July 1, 2001, he will be eligible for up to $30,000 in bonus pay if the district meets specific achievement goals. The new contract runs through June 2004.
With the pay raise, Domenech becomes the second highest-paid superintendent in the Washington area. Montgomery County School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast earns a base salary of $237,000.