Contract extension approved for Fort Smith superintendent

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,787 views 

Fort Smith Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Terry Morawski could receive at least a $7,400 pay raise beginning July 1. The school board on Monday (May 1) approved extending his contract for one year. His pay is now set at $246,445.61 annually.

His contract renewal was approved after a three and a half hour executive session during a special called meeting Monday. The Fort Smith Public Schools Board of Education voted six to one to extend the superintendent contract for Dr. Terry Morawski by one year. Board member Sandy Dixon voted against the extension.

“The board evaluated the superintendent in executive session last night, and the results were favorable. Per the 2022-23 contract, Section 3.2, the superintendent ‘shall receive not less than a 3% increase with such increases being effective as of July 1 each year,’” noted a statement from Shari Cooper, director of communications.

The new salary figure will be identified and incorporated into Morawski’s new 2023-24 contract, which is still being drafted and once finalized, will be presented as an action item at a future board meeting, Cooper said.

Morwaski’s original contract was approved Nov. 30, 2020. That contract was for Dec. 31, 2020, to June 2023. A contract approved in 2020 continued that time period through June 30, 2025. The vote Monday extended the contract to 2026.

Dr. Terry Morawski

Morawski’s salary approved in the spring 2022 drew criticism because it was 14.47% higher than his salary that was approved Dec. 30, 2020. During that time certified staff (teacher) pay had an average increase of just 1.11%. Morawski received two raises between his hire date and 2022, 5.6% with the start of his 2021-22 contract and 8.4% with his 2022-23 contract. Morawski replaced former superintendent Dr. Doug Brubaker who resigned in 2020 to take the position of superintendent for the Texarkana, Texas, Independent School District.

The school board approved a salary schedule in May 2022 for certified employees that gave teachers on average a 5.89% pay increase last year.

FSPS Chief Financial Officer Charles Warren on April 24 presented to the school board a proposal to increase teacher pay resulting from the LEARNS Act. The act approved by the Arkansas Legislature earlier this year mandates that all public school districts raise the minimum certified teacher pay to $50,000 a year and certified teachers who make more than $50,000 a year receive a $2,000 raise.

The plan presented also included maintaining step and lane increases for all certified teachers, including veteran teachers, Warren said. He said it also includes adding three additional steps for veteran teachers, something the school board discussed wanting last year. The proposal presented also included a proposed classified salary schedule change that included a base increase of almost $1,000 for all full-time staff and a minimum starting pay of $15/hour.

The staff salary proposals are set to be on the school board’s May meeting agenda for action.