by Max Brantley
Just got a note about a special meeting of the LR School Board following the regular meeting tonight Thursday night to vote on the superintendent's contract, which has been up in the air on account of a disagreement on an annual annuity. I don't yet know what the proposal is. Odds are it will be the pending contract, corrected to provide an annual $25,000 annuity payment over the contract's three years. In what lawyers and Superintendent Linda Watson have said was an oversight, the contract erroneously provides only for a one-time $25,000 payment the third year. At a previous meeting, the matter was tabled, probably because there were't sufficient "yes" votes present to adopt it. Board member Diane Curry was absent and Board member Charles Armstrong, who's also generally been in the group most supportive of Watson, had questions about the contract.
There will be some resistance to the three-time payment. The previous superintendent, Roy Brooks, got an annual annity, but Board member Melanie Fox noted that he wasn't vested in the Arkansas retirement system as Watson is and that the impact of her three years at much higher pay on the retirement formula she's entitled to receive through the state system will be significant, probably more than $500,000 cumulatively.
UPDATE: I believe there's a compromise to be considered. Watson would be paid a $25,000 annuity for completion of her first year at work. An additional $50,000 would be paid if she completes a third year as superintendent. I don't think the compromise will be unanimously approved. Fox, for one, is concerned about voting additional outlays of money while the district's budget situation is uncertain.