Davis gets salary supplement

Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 12/12/18

FLEMING ISLAND – In a unanimous move, the Clay County School Board voted to give Superintendent Addison Davis a $19,520 salary supplement as he approaches his third year on the job.

The move …

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Davis gets salary supplement

Posted

FLEMING ISLAND – In a unanimous move, the Clay County School Board voted to give Superintendent Addison Davis a $19,520 salary supplement as he approaches his third year on the job.

The move came after the board reviewed Davis’ performance at the Dec. 6 school board meeting held at Fleming Island High. The vote also comes after months of discussions at school board workshops and other meetings throughout the year. In making the recommendation for the supplement, School Board Member Mary Bolla said the superintendent’s performance should be reviewed annually.

“I’d like to recommend that we adjust the Superintendent’s salary from the current salary [$134,480]... to be $159,000 starting January 1st of 2019,” Bolla said during the meeting.

This began the discussion that would eventually end with Davis’ salary increasing to $154,000.

Davis’ supplement is not a new phenomenon as it dates to the late 1980s and the tenure of Superintendent of Ann Wiggins when she was granted a $3,000 supplement. As years went by, the supplement grew as high as $28,900. The last superintendent to receive a supplement before Davis was one-term superintendent Charlie Van Zant Jr., whom Davis defeated in the 2016 election.

Before 2014, the supplement was simply an annual budget item that the school board voted on each year. Because it was a part of the budget, the supplement was approved seemingly automatically with the approval of the budget. That changed in 2014, though, when the school board voted to ensure that a discussion was held specifically around the supplement before approving it. This prevented it from being automatically approved with the budget.

So, when the item was brought to the board by Bolla, it was business as usual. Alongside the item, she presented several reasons why she believes Davis deserves the salary increase.

“The intended outcome is to recognize and reward the superintendent’s accomplishments for the past 24 months...which include but are not limited to an increase in our graduation rate, returning the Clay County School District to an A rating, taking the standing of our school district from 18th to the Top 10 in the state, which we are eighth at the present time,” Bolla said.

Bolla continued and listed more accomplishments, such as the construction of Discovery Oaks Elementary, which was paid for in-full when it opened. She also pointed out that this review used to precede a supplement to a superintendent’s salary, but in this instance, it was a salary raise.

School board member Carol Studdard said the board doesn’t use the word “supplement” anymore.

The following discussion didn’t center around whether or not Davis deserved the raise – all board members agreed he did – but rather, the amount. Some members, like Bolla, wanted it at $159,000, while others, like school board members Janice Kerekes and Ashley Gilhousen, wanted it lower. After some discussion, though, the school board voted unanimously to approve a raise of Davis’ salary from $134,480 to $154,000.

In other business, the Clay County School Board finally solved it’s legal services dilemma during the Dec. 6 meeting.

Since School Board attorney David D’Agata turned in his resignation letter in October to take a job with a firm in Jacksonville, the school board has been working to find D’Agata’s replacement. D’Agata recommended hiring both a form of legal counsel for the superintendent and staff and a form of legal counsel for the school board.

The school board voted instead to hire a Bruce Bickner, an attorney who served the school board for over a dozen years before resigning in 2013 after being threatened with termination by then-Superintendent Charlie Van Zant Jr.

On a 3-2 vote, the school board approved a $144,000 contract for Bickner that ends December 30, 2021. Bullock, Kerekes and Studdard voted yes, while Bolla and Gilhousen dissented. Their reason for dissenting was that they were not happy that the board was foregoing a bid for the position, something both Gilhousen and Bolla agreed would be the responsible thing to do.

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