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Kanawha superintendent gets salary increase

By Megan Workman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County school board members renewed Superintendent Ron Duerring's contract for one year and gave him another raise, which will increase his salary by nearly 58 percent since 2008 and make him the third-highest-paid county superintendent in the state next year.

During a special meeting Monday, the board voted 5-0 to give Duerring a one-year contract that begins July 1 and lasts until June 30, 2014.

The board also voted 3-2 to give Duerring a raise. Board members Pete Thaw and Robin Rector voted against the raise. Both also voted against a salary increase that Duerring received in 2008.

School board members Becky Jordon, Jim Crawford and Bill Raglin voted for the raise.

Duerring's 5-percent raise means an increase of $7,500 on top of his current salary of $150,000.

Raglin said the one-year contract shouldn't alarm anyone.

"We mutually agreed upon the duration between Superintendent Duerring and the board. It shouldn't be written that there's displeasure on our part or on Duerring's part to jump ship," Raglin said.

Crawford said former Clay County Superintendent James Dawson had a one-year contract for 20 years.

Duerring thanked the board for renewing his contract. He said the one-year contract provides more flexibility, but it doesn't mean he is leaving.

"It's a privilege and honor to be in this position. I've loved every minute of it," Duerring said. "Some day you have to say goodbye to it all, but now is [not that time]."

Duerring is one of the longest-serving county superintendents in the state. He's held the role since 1998.

His current four-year contract, which has built-in annual pay raises, expires June 30.

Duerring has received about a $3,300 raise every year since the contract was issued. Berkeley County's superintendent has a higher salary, and Putnam County's superintendent salary will eclipse Duerring's next year as well -- although Kanawha's is the largest school system in the state.

Duerring said he went eight years without a pay raise -- from 2000 to 2008 -- and "in the end, it worked out."

It hasn't worked out for teachers in the state, however, Rector said.

Before Monday night the board had already increased Duerring's salary by 50 percent since 2008, while teachers haven't seen an "across-the-board" raise in that time, she said.

Thaw said he agreed with Rector's comments.

Rector said she knows the salary puts "Kanawha County in a competitive place, but" the pay increase Duerring will see "is pretty hefty in this economy."

In January, Kanawha County school board members gave Duerring his annual evaluation and said that he is doing a good job.

Last year, Duerring applied for a superintendent's position in the Norfolk, Va., school district where his son lives. Duerring was among the top three finalists considered for that position, but did not get the job.

Also Monday, the board approved revisions to the school system's transfer policy that cracks down on out-of-area transfer students.

The new policy would place students who attend a school outside their residential area under more scrutiny by requiring families to renew applications annually and forcing students who move to a new area to go to school in that area. It would also eliminate the current rule that allows students to automatically enroll where their siblings are.

One of the amendments says that instead of requiring a student to get a transfer "approved" by their home school, the transfer should be "reviewed" by their home school.

The change came after Mark Milam, assistant superintendent for the county's high schools, said he gives transfers the go-ahead without the approval of the student's home school. Milam handles the final processing of transfers and notifies both schools anyway, he said.

"If [one] school can take that student, I go ahead and approve it. The second principal may deny it from the school they're leaving, but I've upheld that if that first high school has room," Milam said.

The other revision in the transfer policy clarifies tardiness and absences for students who are consistently late. It adds "as defined by the school" to the phrase: "students who live outside of the attendance area of the school in which they are enrolled who are consistently tardy, absent from school as defined by the school or become chronic behavior problems, may have their transfer status revoked."

Rector called that change "a warning with an exclamation mark because this is another repercussion, like not going to prom."

Reach Megan Workman at megan.workman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113


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