BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School District officially has a new superintendent.
After weeks of negotiations with Lori Romano, School Board members on Tuesday voted 4-1 to ratify a contract with the Martin County schools administrator worth about $150,000 a year.
School Board member Cynthia Moore cast the dissenting vote.
"I really don't approve of the salary because we are having to cut instructional people and noninstructional people at schools," said Moore, who has opposed Romano's appointment. "This is cutting them and giving her more money."
Romano, currently the director of adult, community, secondary and virtual education programs in Martin, will make $117,000 in the first year and $120,000 in the second year. The salary in the third year, a rollover year, is subject to negotiations.
Moore also opposed the idea that the district would pay for family insurance when that isn't done for others in the district.
Board chairman Matt Foreman, who also didn't initially back Romano, voted in favor of the contract. He said the compensation package is lower than the current superintendent's and the salary is less than that of an elected superintendent.
Romano's contract calls for her to begin July 1, but she will use built-up vacation days to leave her current job sooner to begin in Hernando.
Both Romano and the district's negotiating team had to cover a lot of ground before arriving at the contract. The district first offered Romano $101,000 — near the bottom of the advertised salary range of $100,000 to $130,000. Her counter: $130,000.
They also had to agree on a host of other issues, ranging from the board's desire to have an anti-nepotism policy to her request to require four of five board members to fire her.
The board got to keep its anti-nepotism policy and only needs a majority to end the contract.
Retiring superintendent Bryan Blavatt offered some perspective for the board before the vote.
"It's really important that you start out unified in support of the superintendent in order for them to be effective," he said.
"You have to at this point take the position that it's a decision of the group, unified, and give that person the opportunity to have a supportive board to start out with."