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Morgan contract said to be 'fair'

March 09, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY

The new contract for Washington County Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan includes guaranteed pay raises, increases in payments to a tax-sheltered annuity and a bigger allowance for vehicle expenses.

Morgan's salary, potential reimbursements and benefits unrelated to insurance could total more than $200,000 next fiscal year. The contract's vacation, personal and sick days would allow Morgan to take off as many as 64 days a year.

One day after Board of Education members and Morgan signed the contract, Board President W. Edward Forrest said Wednesday he believes the terms of the four-year extension are comparable to what other school systems offer.

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"I think it's a very fair contract, with (Morgan's) proven record of success. Many superintendents could go elsewhere, and in my opinion, they can make much more," Forrest said.

Morgan will earn a $158,000 salary next fiscal year. She also receives full-paid health and vision insurance and reimbursements of up to $10,000 for professional development activities and up to $3,000 for medical expenses not covered by the health plan.

Under the new contract, which runs from July 1 through June 30, 2010, the board will contribute $26,500 annually to a tax-sheltered annuity for Morgan.

Unlike the four-year deal it replaces, the new contract will guarantee Morgan raises of at least 5 percent a year. Under the current contract, Morgan's raises were based on an assessment of her performance.

Forrest said the board is comfortable with the new automatic raises, "because of the record of achievement we have here." The new contract will allow Morgan to earn up to 10 percent in bonuses, based on factors such as student achievement.

Forrest said the new contract's $600 vehicle allowance - an increase of $100 a month - is "more economical in the long run" than other options the board examined, including providing Morgan with a car and reimbursing her for gas.

Both contracts give Morgan three vacation days a month and two sick days a month. Under the new contract, Morgan also may take four personal days off a year.

According to the current contract, unused personal days could be converted into a retirement plan, and Morgan could cash out one day of every three days of unused sick leave.

The new contract doubles the number of unused vacation days Morgan can carry over from one year to the next - from 25 days to 50 days - and it allows her to convert unused leave into a retirement account. Upon leaving the system, Morgan can cash out as many as 50 unused vacation days, and she will receive 40 percent from all unused sick days, up to $50,000.

The number of days off is fairly average for superintendents, Forrest said.

"When you look at those days, she's never really used that number of days, but it's more of a tool for her to build into her retirement," he said.

Morgan leads a school system of more than 20,000 students with a current operating budget of more than $176 million. She came to Washington County in 2001 as an interim superintendent on loan from Baltimore City Schools.

The school board reimbursed Baltimore City $105,000 toward Morgan's contract and hired her a year later. Morgan's current salary is $146,839.

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