Columbus City School district Superintendent Gene Harris has declined a pay increase on a temporary basis.
Though the school board approved a 4 percent raise after giving Harris a favorable 2008 evaluation, Harris deferred the raise until the district settles new contracts with its unions.
The proposed 4 percent compensation would have given Harris an extra $7,436.48 a year, on top of her base salary of more than $170,000.
At a regular board meeting March 3, board President Carol Perkins commended Harris on her choice.
“Dr. Harris has worked tirelessly and is one of the main reasons we were successful in obtaining November’s levy,” Perkins said. “This speaks volumes and it is a blessing to have a leader who supports students and who does everything necessary to education students.”
According to the board’s evaluation, Harris assisted the district in moving from academic watch to continuous improvement on the state’s report card.
The board also commended Harris on her oral communication skills, calling her an “excellent and inspiring spokesperson,” as well as her leadership skills while in a challenging climate.
Harris also worked effectively with the district’s unions and has embraced the board’s policy governance, according to the evaluation.
Harris and the board identified several areas to be addressed over the next year, most of which are a direct result of the passage of last year’s levy/bond issue. The $164-million 1.13-mill bond issue and a 7.85-mill permanent operating levy passed by more than 62 percent in November.
Harris will work to implement restoring time previously lost in the academic day, reducing class sizes in grades kindergarten through third, and aligning the district’s staff with the district’s mission and goals of 2012 and beyond.
The board identified four other key areas of necessary continuous improvement: Communication within the district, customer relations, communications/support to the board in relation to district end results and student achievement, and executive succession.
According to the evaluation’s summary, Harris has “performed with excellence.” The board offered “collective commendation” for her work.
Board member W. Shawna Gibbs also commended Harris publicly at the board meeting.
“You run a well-oiled machine with high-quality teaching, high-quality learning, high-quality fun and high-quality enjoyment,” Gibbs said.