Years from now, Mark Evans should have no $1 million parachute waiting to scoop him away from the Omaha Public Schools.
His newly approved contract has no complicated formula detailing a retirement bonus that will later surprise his bosses and upset the public.
Evans' superintendent contract is also less lucrative than those of former OPS superintendent-to-be Nancy Sebring and retired Superintendent John Mackiel, who claimed his retirement package last fall. Still, Evans will be the highest-paid school leader in Nebraska.
The new deal also contains fewer add-ons than Mackiel's contract and has been stripped of language that some said gave Mackiel too much power and limited the board's authority.
Evans will be paid about $314,000 a year, including $265,000 in base pay, an annuity and a transportation allowance. Next school year, he also could get thousands of dollars more if he cashes out unused vacation days, and up to $3,750 more if he consults with OPS officials before starting July 1.
The pay difference from past OPS leaders is partly because the school board restricted Evans' ability to get cash for unused vacation days.
Comparing contracts: Highlights of new, old superintendent deals
|Mark Evans||Nancy Sebring||John Mackiel|
|Term||Three-year; can retire or resign with 180 days' notice; district can terminate for just cause.||Same||Same|
|Base salary||$265,000 (2013-14)||$275,000 (2012-13)||$258,000 (2011-12)|
|Tax-sheltered annuity||District contributes $37,100 a year (14% of his salary)||District contributes $38,500 a year (14% of her salary)||District contributes $49,000 a year (maximum under law at the time)|
|Health insurance||Same as district administrators||Same||Same|
|Transportation||$12,000 a year||$12,000 a year||Superintendent provides personal automobile; receives either reimbursement for mileage or receives transportation allowance|
|Expense account||None, can be reimbursed for ordinary, reasonable expenses||Same as Evans||$12,000 a year for non-transportation business expenses|
|Moving expenses||$15,000 for costs associated with move from Kansas||$15,000 for move from Des Moines||n/a|
|Vacation||25 days per year; may cash out 20 unused days only after first year*||20 days per year; may cash out unused days||45 days per year; may cash out unused days|
*Evans can also cash out up to 30 unused vacation days upon separation from employment.
Comparing other contracts, in the metro and beyond
Superintendent contracts include base pay as well as other add-ons, such as tax-sheltered annuities, performance bonuses and cashout options for unused vacation days. Here's a look at the base pay of area superintendents:
|Papillion-La Vista||Rick Black||$213,104|
|Council Bluffs||Martha Bruckner||$205,000|
|Douglas County West||Dan Schnoes||$134,500|
|Springfield Platteview||Brett Richards||$122,000|
*Starts in July
Sources: Area school districts
Mackiel, interim Superintendent Virginia Moon and Sebring all could annually cash out a limited amount of unused days. But Evans can do so only after his first year and when he separates from the district. And even then, 30 days is the most he could cash out.
Board members crafted Evans' contract with two things in mind: “Simplicity, transparency,” said Marian Fey, the board's president. “I believe we heard very clear from the public that's what they wanted.”
Evans, 53, is in his eighth year of leading the Andover, Kan., Public Schools. The Omaha board approved his contract last month after choosing him from among three finalists in December.
His deal is the second the school board has negotiated with a finalist since April. The board originally picked and negotiated a contract with Sebring to succeed Mackiel. But she later resigned after sexually explicit emails sent to and from her work account became public.
Also read: Q&A: The OPS controversies
Many of the changes reflected in Evans' deal were included in Sebring's contract, such as the deletion of language that delineated certain powers, the absence of clauses cluttered with legalese that don't list dollar amounts and the removal of the large retirement bonus.
The previous contract language that's now gone gave Mackiel “complete freedom to organize, reorganize and arrange” the district's administrative and supervisory staff. Also absent is a job responsibilities clause stipulating that “members of the board shall exercise only those responsibilities specified in the policies and regulations of the district.”
And last year, the board approved adjusting the wording in its own policies to say the superintendent has “the freedom,” instead of “complete freedom.” The board also OK'd removing the job responsibilities clause.
Board member Justin Wayne, who previously said the paragraphs hampered the board's ability to oversee the district, said he's not sure what their removal will achieve. “We didn't have any authority over staffing or anything like that,” he said. “Now we have some input. How far that will be, I don't know.”
The OPS board had been heavily criticized for how Mackiel's contract was written and for the size of his retirement payout.
More coverage: OPS superintendent search
His base pay was about $258,000, but a World-Herald analysis found that he made much more because of various extras. Mackiel was paid $413,607 during the 2010-11 school year and got $379,727 last school year.
His retirement benefit was written into his contract in 2004, but last September, as OPS finalized its 2012-13 budget, the size of the payout surprised board members and the district's finance staff.
“Everybody should be able to read it and understand what's in there,” Fey said of Evans' deal. “I don't believe (past contracts) had that level of transparency.”
The board didn't start with any past contract and tweak it to fit Evans' situation, she said. Instead, the board started fresh with its new leader.
The pay difference between him and his predecessors also could be partly explained by their different experiences.
He and Sebring were both superintendents before accepting the OPS job, but Sebring led the urban Des Moines district with about 31,000 students; Evans' suburban Andover district has about 5,400 students.
Sebring also had a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies; Evans will start classes this summer to get his education specialist degree.
In Andover, Evans makes about $190,000.
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