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FWCS board ponders contract extension for superintendent

December 12, 2017 GMT

Superintendent Wendy Robinson’s desire to postpone retirement from Fort Wayne Community Schools met little resistance Monday, with only one board member suggesting it’s not too early to consider new leadership.

The school board is expected to vote on extending Robinson’s contract by one year during a special meeting at 5 p.m. Dec. 18 -- almost a year after it approved her current three-year contract, which expires June 30, 2019.

If approved, the extension will be her last, Robinson said after the meeting.

Nobody from the audience commented on the proposal, which has the same terms as Robinson’s current contract. It includes a 20,000 annuity, insurance and expenses for a cellphone and vehicle. The package’s total monetary value is estimated between 293,807 annually.

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The extension came up in conversation, board President Julie Hollingsworth said, noting she could tell the longtime FWCS leader was thinking beyond 2019.

“We’d be crazy not to take her up on it,” Hollingsworth said, “and I don’t consider myself crazy yet.”

Steve Corona, the vice president, acknowledged some people will criticize Robinson’s compensation, but he described the terms as reasonable for the superintendent of the state’s largest district.

“Good superintendents are very hard to find,” he said, “and we have an excellent one.”

Board member Glenna Jehl said she was conflicted about supporting an extension. She voted against the existing contract last year because she struggled with the overall size of the package.

She appreciates many of Robinson’s qualities -- including her perseverance, determination and hard work -- but said it is premature to consider an extension given her existing contract was only approved last December.

“I don’t think it’s too early to think about new leadership,” Jehl said.

She also noted how the board has discounted ISTEP results and state accountability grades. The community, however, cannot completely ignore those benchmarks because they can influence economic development and whether people stay and live in Fort Wayne, she said.

“I feel like there isn’t [an] adequate stress on academic achievement,” Jehl said.

″... I’m still a little leery of not holding the chief officer of the district accountable for results. And while we have many good teachers who work and do amazing things, and we have amazing students and amazing families who are very committed to the district, I think there needs to be improvement, especially in that area.”

Robinson declined to respond to Jehl’s comments.

Hollingsworth said the metric that “speaks loudest” to her about student achievement is the district’s graduation rate, not ISTEP results.

“Our goal as a district is to get them at the finish line,” she said.

asloboda@jg.net

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