Bartlett OKs superintendent’s contract

School board members talk with Bartlett Superintendent of Education, David Stephens.
From left, Bartlett School board members Bryan Woodruff, David Cook, Erin Berry, and Jeff Norris discuss the work ahead for Supt. David Stephens, at right.

By Carolyn Bahm
Express Editor

Bartlett’s new school superintendent will take office Jan. 6 with a $160,000 salary and the potential for up to $20,000 in a yearly bonus tied to performance.

The school board unanimously approved the negotiated contract for Supt. David Stephens at a Dec. 30 meeting. The contract also includes a $500 monthly car reimbursement, a $175 monthly cell phone allowance, and health insurance purchased through the city’s plan until the district’s own policy is in place.

The performance bonus could be split in a number of ways and would be tied to goals set annually in discussions between the superintendent and the board, said Jeff Norris, school board chairman. The time period would be the district’s July 1-June 30 fiscal year. The first year’s performance metrics will be named by July 1, 2014, Norris said. There will be no performance incentive in place until then.

Board member Shirley Jackson asked what type of incentives might be included the first year, when there are no previous year’s metrics to measure against. Norris said they might include ensuring the school district opens on schedule and district employees receive their first paychecks on time.

A non-compete clause was not included in the contract. Stephens was willing to consider that prospect, Norris said, but pursuing such a clause was not advised. Bartlett staff attorney Kari Shoopman responded to board questions on this point, saying the state sees public education as a collaborative activity and does not view non-compete clauses as essential to public education as they are in competitive corporate leadership roles where trade secrets might be involved. The necessary legal analysis also would not be practical for the school district’s short time frame.

Board member Shirley Jackson noted that she approved the vehicle reimbursement in lieu of buying or leasing a car for the superintendent’s use.

Stephens is leaving his position as Deputy Superintendent for Shelby County Schools (SCS) to lead the Bartlett City Schools.

“I know this community,” Stephens said. “And this board is also who I’ve really been impressed with.”