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Lawrence school board extends superintendent’s contract; it doubles his retirement benefits, keeps raise from last year

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Post updated at 11:20 p.m. Monday, July 10:

The Lawrence school board on Monday approved a contract extension for Superintendent Anthony Lewis that more than doubles his annual retirement benefits. He received a salary increase of $2,765 last year in between contract extensions.

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The new contract, added to the board’s agenda mid-meeting, runs through June 30, 2026.

“Lewis shall be provided full family health, dental, and vision insurance at District expense,” the new contract states. “Further, he shall be provided an employer contribution of $1,350 per month ($16,200 per year) during the term of this Contract to the employer paid 403(b) plan, provided however, if such contributions exceed the IRS limitations for highly compensated employees, then the contribution will be reduced to the highest allowable level and the balance of the $16,200 per year will be paid to Lewis as salary.”

The previous contract, which was set to run from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2024, included $600 per month, or $7,200 per year, in employer contributions to Lewis’ 403(b) plan.

Lewis’ annual salary is $229,295, a 1.2% increase from the 2021-22 salary that was included on the last contract extension the board approved, in July 2021.

District spokesperson Julie Boyle said via email Monday night that Lewis’ annual salary was not increasing this year, as a prior version of this article had stated.

“Multi-year contracts do not require annual approval,” she said. “22-23 Administrative salaries were approved along with Certified salaries on August 22, 2022.” The board approved a 1% increase to the administrative salary pool, or an additional $55,897 out of the district’s budget, on that date, as well as a 1.8% increase to the certified staff salary pool.

Lewis’ vacation did not change with the new contract. The contract includes 20 paid vacation days, plus holidays recognized by the district (not to exceed 40 days) and 12 days paid sick leave.

The school board on Monday also approved a new contract with PAL-CWA, the district’s classified staff union. It increases the starting base hourly wage for classified employees to $13.03. Under the newly approved salary matrix with the Lawrence Education Association (LEA), certified teacher compensation starts at $42,583 and maxes out at $77,633, approximately one-third of Lewis’ annual salary, for teachers who have doctoral degrees and 24-plus years of experience teaching.

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Lewis’ contract extension was on the board’s consent agenda, or a list of items that are generally considered routine and are approved with one motion unless a board member asks to pull an item for discussion. The contract extension was not among items the board asked to discuss.

Now approved, the new contract includes an effective date of July 1, 2023.

The superintendent is the only district employee the school board is directly responsible for hiring and evaluating. His contract states that “The Board may during the term of this Contract provide Lewis with increases in his salary as it may from time to time determine appropriate.”

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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