The St. Paul school board has locked in Superintendent Joe Gothard for another three years atop the state's second-largest district — this time with guaranteed annual raises plus other contract sweeteners.
Gothard, who now is paid $240,000 annually, would see a salary hike to $256,000 in 2023-24 under the deal approved 7-0 by board members Tuesday.
Board Member Jessica Kopp said: "There is belief within this board in the ability of this superintendent to make progress on current initiatives and to lead St. Paul Public Schools into a bright and beautiful future."
Gothard reminded board members that when hired in 2017 he said change takes time, and he is committed to the board and to the community.
"I thank you for your support," he said.
The three-year contract puts Gothard on pace to be St. Paul's longest-serving superintendent since George Young ended a 16-year run in 1985.
Scott Croonquist, executive director of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, said the deal makes sense for the district.
"If you have a good thing going — a good relationship — there's obviously a benefit to have some consistency," he said. "Joe is certainly viewed as a top-notch superintendent."
Gothard comes off a year during which the district averted a teachers strike and closed and merged several schools under the Envision SPPS consolidation plan. He also has assumed a higher profile locally and nationally.
He went to the State Capitol to advocate for increased funding for special education students and non-English speakers. In September, Gothard took part in a U.S. Department of Education news event touting St. Paul's use of COVID relief funding.
He also is president-elect of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.
Like many urban districts, St. Paul is struggling with low test scores and declining enrollment. The district has lost students to such an extent that Gothard was heartened that this year's losses do not appear to be worse than projected.
Board members moved to extend Gothard's contract after a closed-door job review in July during which they concluded he'd raised his performance in four of six assessment areas from "effective" a year ago to "highly effective" — the highest mark given.
In addition to the 2023-24 pay raise, the contract calls for:
- Salary increases to $261,120 in 2024-25 and $266,342 in 2025-26.
- An additional bump in salary equal to the amount of Gothard's pension payments to the St. Paul Teachers Retirement Association — about $20,000 per year.
- A new provision in the area of deferred compensation in which the district agrees to contribute $10,000 a year to Gothard's supplemental retirement plan.
- A new "longevity" component that includes a contribution of 5% of his 2023-24 salary, or about $12,800, and then a 7% contribution in 2024-25 and 10% in 2025-26 — again to his supplemental retirement plan.
Gothard also is eligible for unspecified increases if he receives "satisfactory" evaluations after each contract year.
He now is among the state's highest-paid superintendents.
Minnetonka Public Schools Superintendent David Law is in the first year of a three-year contract paying him $275,000, plus performance incentives.
Lakeville Area Schools Superintendent Doug Van Zyl is paid $260,000, followed by $265,000 in 2023-24 and $270,000 in 2024-25.