Pat Carroll on NewsMakers
COLLIER COUNTY — From more vacation days and technology in her office, home and car, to a guarantee that she won’t be reassigned, Collier County’s new superintendent, Kamela Patton, has made her requests.
Now it is time for the Collier County School Board to decide if they can live with them.
The board will hold a special meeting Thursday to discuss revisions to Patton’s contract after she proposed extensive changes.
Among those changes:
■ An increase in vacation days from 20 to 25.
■ An increase in sick days from 16 over the course of a year to 18 up front.
■ Add six personal days. The initial contract had no personal days.
■ An increase in the automobile allowance from $500 to $750 per month.
■ District pays for and provides technology equipment, as Patton requests, for use in her office, residence and automobile for the conduct of her duties, and for “incidental personal use.”
■ The School Board cannot reassign Patton from her position as superintendent to another position without her written consent.
District Attorney Jon Fishbane, who held a conference call with Patton and her attorney Wednesday, said some of what Patton has proposed is already being revised.
Fishbane said a request from Patton that the district put $12,000 in a tax shelter or annuity has been withdrawn. In addition, he said, Patton has agreed to abide by the district’s policy that personal days are taken from an employee’s accrued sick days.
Fishbane said he planned to make some of those changes and present a revised contract to board members prior to their meeting Thursday.
“These are resolvable issues we have to work through,” he said.
Attempts to reach Patton for comment were unsuccessful.
During an interview with Daily News Editorial Page Editor Jeff Lytle this week, School Board member Pat Carroll said she was “disappointed” by Patton’s changes, which could “possibly” be deal breakers.
She said she’s heard that candidates with Ph.Ds are taught to “come back with some sort of amazing counter-offer” to show they have the self esteem required for the job.
“For me, it’s going to determine whether or not she will accept our counter, whether or not she’s here to help Collier County, or for the money,” Carroll said.
Other board members, including School Board Chairwoman Julie Sprague, said they believe a deal will ultimately be reached.
The School Board voted May 5, to offer Patton a three-year- and- one-month contract, which starts June 1, and ends June 30, 2014. She would be paid $200,000 for the first year — a figure that was decided by the board before superintendent candidates’ interviews began.
In addition, Patton would receive a review every six months, with one of those reviews culminating in a yearly evaluation. Her reviews would be based on a set of goals, which are tied to the District’s strategic plan, as well as standards for achieving goals, which are based on the Connect Now statement, an education initiative developed by community members.
Patton would receive 20 working days of vacation per year, at least 10 of which must be used each year or lost. Board members also offered Patton a $500 per month car stipend to cover gas mileage and maintenance of her vehicle, and agreed to pay for Patton to have up to four memberships in professional organizations and attend up to four professional conferences each year.
The district would also give Patton an additional $1,200 to use to join Rotary or other local professional organizations.
In one of the more interesting additions to the contract, Patton added a section on board/superintendent communications.
“The Board and Superintendent agree that they shall work with each other in a spirit of cooperation and team work and shall provide each other with periodic opportunities to discuss Board/Superintendent relations and communications,” reads the section, which also asks that the board and Patton set a date for a first meeting to occur by July 31.
“At that time, the Board and the Superintendent shall meet to discuss the roles of the Board and the Superintendent and to develop a process and procedures by which the Board and the Superintendent will communicate, with an emphasis on productive and constructive communications between the Board and the Superintendent.”
Patton also requests that the board, both collectively and as individual board members, give her criticisms, complaints and suggestions on her performance promptly.
Sprague said the conference call with Patton and her attorney was helpful to the negotiations process.
“I think both sides didn’t understand some of the background of where the other side was coming from,” she said. “It made it much easier to converse and do it.”
Sprague said she thought both sides would be able to come to an agreement “that is clear and readable and will not be picked up three years from now and be interpreted in different ways.”
Part of the reason for the back and forth between Patton and the School Board is that the board and Fishbane developed the contract without initial input from Patton. When Dennis Thompson developed his contract with the board, for example, he and his attorney met with then-School Board member Steve Donovan and then-school District Attorney Richard Withers to develop the contract that was eventually presented to the School Board.
“We are in very different territory,” Sprague said.
“Everything is transparent so the public knows what was occurring,” he said.
Patton is expected to start work June 1. Sprague said she is “optimistic” that will happen.
Fishbane said the goals of both sides have not changed, including that the new superintendent will start work in two weeks.
“As you can see from the changes she made to the contract, the start date wasn’t one of them,” he said.
The Collier County School Board’s meeting will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Administrative Center, 5775 Osceola Trail.
Connect with K-12 education policy reporter Katherine Albers at www.naplesnews.com/staff/katherine-albers/.