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Next Hillsborough superintendent offered $310,000 contract

The agreement would run through the end of 2023.
Clay County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis (wearing a pink tie), center, takes photos with the Hillsborough County Public Schools board members after being voted unaminous as the new incoming superintendent in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday, January 21, 2020. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County school district’s next superintendent could earn $310,000 a year in salary — about $85,000 more than the man he’ll replace at the helm.

Addison Davis, selected by the School Board in January to lead the nation’s seventh-largest district, asked for more in his contract negotiations, said Jim Porter, the board’s lawyer. “But the board was not comfortable with that.”

Jeff Eakins, who took over the district in 2015 without any search after the ouster of MaryEllen Elia, earned $225,000 annually and had performance bonuses built into his agreement.

Eakins never accepted the bonuses, Porter said. And the board has not offered any to Davis, who will move to Hillsborough from Clay County, where he was the elected superintendent since 2016.

Related: Hillsborough’s new school superintendent: ‘Teach like your hair’s on fire.’

The board also did not go for Davis’ request for a five-year contract, instead settling for a term that runs through December 2023. Board members have suggested they wanted to have a way out, if necessary, that does not tie everyone in knots.

Elia had a contract that automatically renewed annually if she received a certain performance evaluation score. The board ended that practice with Eakins, and Porter said it was not revived for Davis.

“The board is not interested in getting stuck in an endless loop,” Porter said.

The deal, which goes to the board Tuesday for consideration, would allow termination either with or without cause. Any severance package would be capped by state law at 20 weeks of pay.

Most of the benefits offered to Addison mirror those received by Eakins. Because he comes from out of town — the first superintendent from outside the district in more than 50 years — Davis would get $3,000 per month for four months to pay for temporary housing while he looks for a new home. He then would get up to $7,000 in moving expenses.

Board members offered their ideas about what they wanted the contract to include ahead of time, but they left the bargaining to Porter. They have not yet met together to discuss the final deal.

Chairwoman Melissa Snively said she expected anyone with concerns to bring them to Porter ahead of time, so issues can be ironed out by Tuesday.

That’s because the board’s time line calls for signing the agreement that day, giving Davis two weeks to prepare for his new post.

He would become an administrator on assignment beginning March 2, working side by side with Eakins until spring break.

After spring break, Eakins would go on administrative leave until his contract expires, leaving Davis as acting superintendent.

“That way he can begin making decisions that need to be his decisions for the next school year,” Snively said.

On July 1, Davis formally would become the superintendent.

“We’re all excited for him to begin, and to see what positive impact he has on our school district,” Snively said.

Davis said he was pleased to reach a place in contract talks where both he and the board’s representatives were on the same page.

“I am honored to be chosen to run the seventh largest district in the nation,” he said. “With that role and responsibility comes great accountability that I will hold for myself and that the board will hold for me.”

See the proposed contract here for more details.