Fort Smith Schools Superintendent gets one-year contract extension, millage vote will not happen in 2017

by Aric Mitchell (amitchell@talkbusiness.net) 477 views 

First-year Fort Smith Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Doug Brubaker received a one-year extension to his contract through the 2020 school year at a special meeting Thursday (June 1) from the FSPS Service Center.

The six-member School Board approved in a unanimous vote, specifying Brubaker’s extension would be for the same rate of pay he accepted when hired in December 2016. Brubaker receives an annual salary of $210,000, use of a district car, and participation in the state’s insurance and retirement programs.

The Board convened at 5:30 p.m. and went into immediate executive session, emerging after a little more than an hour for the vote. Brubaker told Talk Business & Politics after the meeting he expects a busy summer between short-term preparations for the 2017-2018 school year and long-term strategic planning.

“We’ve completed the entry plan, and we’re poised to start strategic planning in the fall, which will be a great opportunity to get a whole cross-section of our community in dialogue about the future of our school district,” Brubaker said, adding he was “pleased” the Board allowed him to start in January. “It’s given me an opportunity to get such a jump-start on the fall. We’ve set the stage for facilities assessment, strategic planning, and a number of other projects.”

Facilities as well as faculty compensation are two projects outgoing Fort Smith School Board President Dr. Deanie Mehl hopes can be addressed with a future millage vote, noting “hopefully our millage will not only be about facilities, but also about making our compensation for faculty more competitive.”

Mehl, who presided over the School Board vote that retired the Southside High School Rebels mascot, stated in a previous interview with Talk Business & Politics she would not run for reelection.

“I’ve become something of a polarizing figure, and I’m not sure my endorsement would help (future candidates),” Mehl said. “I want someone who is coming on the board without an agenda, or whose only agenda would be what’s in the best interest of the public schools.”

On Thursday, she confirmed any millage proposal would not be presented to voters before the end of 2017. The election for her At-Large position will be held on Sept. 19, 2017.

Brubaker said whenever the millage vote is presented, it will be for the Board to decide, but in the meantime,  the district is working with Cambridge Strategic Services Executive Director Dr. Kevin Castner to identify events, “where we’ll be asking for a cross-section of the community to come join us, and we’ll ask him the questions and see where that takes us” into the strategic planning process.

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