Superintendent Michael Cary asked the school board on Monday, July 6 to start negotiations this summer to renew his three-year contract.

Cary's contract is up June 30, 2021. Legally, the board could not start negotiating the contract until Wednesday, July 1, which marked the beginning of the final year of Cary's contract. They can start negotiations any time in the final year of the contract.

This is the first contract negotiation since Cary took over as superintendent. His predecessor, Ken Scarbrough, waited until later in the year to renegotiate his contract, which gave the board time to bargain with other employees, such as teachers.

Cary said he prefers to have the contract renegotiated by the start of the school year so he can focus on the district's needs and not be distracted by ongoing negotiations.

“Unlike teachers or other bargaining units, we don't have a guaranteed continuation of contract,” Cary said.

Dave Battaglia, board treasurer, said the contracts for the superintendent and teachers do not often come up for negotiations on the same year. However, teachers will renegotiate their two-year contracts in the spring before the end of the school year.

Once the teachers are locked into a new contract, their pay increase is used as a guideline for other staff contracts, including the superintendent, Battaglia said.

“I don't want to agree to a salary (for Cary) until we see what the teachers get,” Battaglia said.

Board chair Ted Lammi said he had reservations about negotiating Cary's contract this early given the uncertainty the school district is facing.

“I think we need to consider the position of uncertain revenues for next year,” Ted Lammi, board chair, said. “We’re taking a risk by locking ourselves into a contract early.”

With the ongoing pandemic, the state could make cuts to aid the school would normally receive.

“The question is, can we afford it?” Lammi asked.

The board members agreed to begin negotiations with Cary in August.

The superintendent negotiation committee includes Lammi, Duane Buytaert and Nate Sandman.

The contract will be presented to the school board when it is complete. The board has the option to vote against the contract after it is presented or to suggest changes.

The board originally planned to discuss the request for the negotiation in closed session on Monday, but Cary said the school attorney told him the closed session would have been illegal.