Montgomery County’s new superintendent of schools will be paid a starting salary of $275,000, get 25 days of annual leave and receive perks including the use of a vehicle under a contract approved Tuesday by the Board of Education.
The four-year contract comes as the final step in the hiring of Jack R. Smith, the state’s interim superintendent of schools. In February, the Board of Education tapped him to lead the high-performing school system — Maryland’s largest — after a lengthy search.
Smith, 58, is to start July 1, arriving as Montgomery continues to grapple with budget strains and surging enrollment and as its gap in achievement for minority students remains a wide concern.
Under the contract terms, Smith will receive $40,000 in deferred compensation annually as well as a contribution of $19,875 toward his retirement plan, officials said. Other benefits include health, disability and life insurance and relocation expenses of up to $12,000.
Smith, who lives in Calvert County, has said he plans to move to Montgomery.
Smith’s contract was unanimously approved Tuesday morning, more than a year after Joshua P. Starr resigned from the district’s top post amid reports that he did not have the board support he needed for a second four-year contract. Starr was hired in 2011.
The board’s national search for Starr’s successor foundered last spring when its only “preferred candidate” withdrew from consideration three days after his name became public. The board restarted the search process in the fall and voted Feb. 4 to hire Smith.
“Jack Smith is an exceptionally skilled leader who will build on our district’s legacy of excellence, and help us ensure that we have a school system where every child has the opportunity to succeed,” Michael A. Durso, president of the Board of Education, said in a statement.
Smith, who once led the much smaller Calvert school system in Southern Maryland, was among more than 70 candidates from across the nation considered during the year-long search. He comes to Montgomery after a long career as an educator, becoming Maryland’s interim state superintendent in September after the departure of Lillian M. Lowery, who took a nonprofit education job in Ohio.
Smith previously was the state’s chief academic officer, starting in 2013, after spending more than a decade in Calvert’s school system, including seven years as superintendent.
Since Starr’s departure, interim superintendent Larry A. Bowers has led the school system. He is scheduled to retire after a lengthy career on June 30.
Smith’s starting salary is higher than Starr’s was. Starr’s contract called for a starting salary of $250,000 a year, with 25 days of annual leave and $35,000 in deferred compensation. The board also provided him with other benefits, including insurance, moving expenses and use of a vehicle.
The board never publicly explained why its support for Starr eroded. Officials close to the matter cited concerns about insufficient progress in narrowing the achievement gap, a lack of a coherent vision for school principals and a personality that could be dismissive.