The Fairfax County School Board on Thursday unanimously approved a salary raise and contract extension for Superintendent Karen Garza, giving the schools chief another four-year term.
Garza, a native Texan, became Fairfax County’s first female superintendent in 2013 after high-profile positions in Texas at school districts in Lubbock, Corpus Christi and Houston.
In Fairfax, she oversees the education of more than 187,000 students and an institution with 200 schools and 24,000 employees. During the first three years of her tenure, she stewarded significant changes in the school system, including pushing back start times for high school students, reorganizing the leadership team and implementing anti-discrimination policies to protect gay and transgender students and staff.
Her new contract starts with a $300,000 base salary — a 7 percent increase from her current pay of $280,099 — and runs through June 30, 2020. The contract also includes $25,000 in annual retirement savings, a monthly $2,000 housing allowance, and the use of a vehicle, laptop and cellphone for professional and personal purposes.
“Dr. Garza has been an agent of positive change for Fairfax County Public Schools,” school board chair Pat Hynes (Hunter Mill) said in a statement. “She has positively engaged the community in a number of critical issues and has been a passionate advocate for our students and teachers.”
The school board voted to approve Garza’s new contract 11 to 0, with board member Tom Wilson (Sully) absent from the meeting.
Garza, at the helm of the 10th largest school district in the country and one of the highest-performing, is widely viewed as a national education leader. She began her career as a classroom teacher in an elementary school in Yoakum, Tex., before ascending rapidly to leadership positions in Texas schools. She had previously served as superintendent in Lubbock and as a chief academic officer in the Houston Independent School District before moving to Northern Virginia.
“We are pleased to be able to recognize Dr. Garza’s contributions by extending her contract, ensuring administrative stability and continuity in the district,” Hynes said.