WCS board rates Looney as exemplary, talks raise
By Kerri Bartlett, Assistant Editor
The Williamson County Schools Board of Education discussed a possible pay raise for Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney Thursday night at their first work session of the year.
The board also voted Tuesday night to adopt Looney’s “exemplary” results of his annual superintendent’s evaluation at their formal board meeting Tuesday night.
The board rated Looney as “exemplary performance” in three of four categories of his evaluation, which includes raising ACT scores, expanding BYOT and leading collaboration, advocacy and high expectations for the district.
Looney received a rating of “meets expectations” in the remaining category of TCAP improvement. Pat Anderson, Chairman of the Board, District 8, noted that the board gave Looney the “unattainable goal” of raising TCAP scores by three percent, which proved impossible in some areas due to the district’s high scores last year. On behalf of the board, Anderson praised Looney’s “incredible success and outstanding leadership.” She also explained that the evaluation not only represented Looney’s performance but the performance of the district reflecting the hard work of teachers and students.
The board’s evaluation measure changed from last year’s quantitative numerical values of 1-4 to describe the superintendent’s effectiveness. Anderson explained that the qualitative rating better defined the board’s expectations and superintendent’s goals.
Looney’s high scores and performance over the past three years as superintendent prompted the board’s discussion about a salary increase Thursday night.
“When a typical CEO of a company shows exemplary performance, they would typically receive a raise,” Kenneth Peterson, District 1, said. “I think he has done the job.”
Rick Wimberly, District 9, agreed that he would like to see a pay increase.
“Dr. Looney is significantly underpaid,” he said.
Initially, prior to his 2009 hire and during the interview process, there was a misunderstanding about what his salary would be, explained Pat Anderson, Chairman of the Board, during the meeting.
Due to an error on the paperwork initiated by the “search,” or recruiting firm, used by the district, Looney and another top candidate under consideration understood the annual starting salary to be $186,000.
Ultimately after clarification, the board offered Looney the budgeted of $168,000.
Four years later, Looney’s salary is $182,740, which reflects county pay increases annually of around 2.5 percent.
Bobby Hullett, District 7 proposed devising a ceiling for the superintendent’s salary with potential increases of three to five percent based on performance with the potential for bonus once the maximum salary was attained.
Eric Welch, District 10, urged the board to keep the salary competitive.
“We need to find out the salaries [of superintendents] of high performing districts of similar size nationally. I’d like to gather more information. If Dr. Looney gets solicited, his results speak for themselves so let’s be competitive,” Welch said.
It was cited that the market value for a superintendent was about $186,000 four years ago, but the district has grown by about 5,000 students and five new schools have opened since Looney accepted the position. Current student enrollment is about 34,000.
The board directed Anderson to conduct research on the market value of superintendent salaries.
The board will vote on extending Looney’s contract from June 15, 2016 to Jan. 15, 2017 in February.
Posted on: 1/22/2014