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Douglas County school board votes to approve amended superintendent contract

Now heads back to Erin Kane, who can choose to accept or propose changes
dcsd board meeting 3-29-22
Posted at 8:46 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 00:18:13-04

DENVER – The Douglas County school board on Tuesday approved an amended contract for new Superintendent Erin Kane that will pay her a quarter-million dollars a year through June 2025.

The board heard public comment for just over an hour to start Tuesday’s meeting before it went into executive session ahead of the vote on Kane’s contract.

The initial contract stated Kane would serve as superintendent from March 31 this year to June 30, 2026. However, that term was amended to end on June 30, 2025.

Kane requested a four-year term, stating it would send a message of stability to the community, according to counsel that was in attendance virtually. Former Superintendent Corey Wise's contracted had a three-year term, while his predecessor, Thomas Tucker, had a five-year term in his contract, according to counsel.

The discussion about shortening the term length revolved around fiscal issues. The district has budgeted enough funding for the next two years. However, come the third year, the district will need to find additional funding, potentially through a mill levy override, according to board president Mike Peterson.

Peterson argued that with a four-year term, the superintendent would have enough time to secure that extra funding. However, board director Elizabeth Hanson argued that if the superintendent could not secure the extra funding in a three-year window, it might be in the district's best interest to have the flexibility to find someone else who could, if needed.

Under the contract, Kane will make a gross annual salary of $250,000.

The contract the board approved Tuesday says Kane may be fired for “good and just cause” and that the board “shall not arbitrarily and capriciously terminate this Contract.”

But it also says that it can terminate Kane’s contract without cause, at which time it would have to pay the remaining base salary due up to 12 months, along with other benefits, as was the case with former Superintendent Corey Wise, who was fired without cause on Feb. 4.

Kane would also be able to terminate the contract herself with four months written notice to the board, according to the contract.

Board director David Ray, one of the members on the minority of the board, who voted against hiring Kane as the next superintendent, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting – the second meeting he’s missed in six years on the board – calling the meeting “the culmination of a series of unethical and unacceptable practices.

“These include the wrongful termination of the former superintendent, a deeply flawed selected process, and decisions/discussions that were made outside of the public eye,” Ray said. “I look forward to a day when the Board can refocus its work on learning, the well-being of ALL students, and supporting our employees who make this possible.”

Board directors Kaylee Winegar and Susan Meek attended the meeting virtually.

Board vice president Christy Williams motioned to amend the contract to shorten the term to three years. That motion was seconded by Hanson and passed in a 4-2 vote. Meek voted no to the amendment, arguing for a two-year term. Wineager also voted no, arguing for a four-year term.

Hanson then motioned to approve the amended contact, and Meyers seconded the motion. The amended contract was approved in a 5-1 vote, with Meek voting no.

The contract will now go back to Kane, who can choose to sign the contract as is or propose changes. If she requests changes, the contract will go back to the board, who will then have to hold a special meeting to discuss and vote on the changes.

The Douglas County School District Board of Education voted to hire Kane as the next superintendent in a meeting on March 23. She is currently the executive director of schools for American Academy, and she previously served as the interim superintendent for the Douglas County School District from 2016 to 2018.

In a one-on-one interview last week with Denver7 anchor and education reporter Nicole Brady, Kane talked about how she plans to stay focused amid the controversies the district is involved in, as well as her plans for teacher retainment.

Click here to watch the full meeting.