Minneapolis Public Schools' next leader could start as soon as February — and with a higher salary than her predecessor.
School board members will vote Tuesday evening on the contract for Lisa Sayles-Adams, their choice to lead the state's fourth-largest school district. Sayles-Adams is currently the superintendent of the Eastern Carver County school district.
The contract stipulates that Sayles-Adams would start in Minneapolis on Feb. 5 and be paid a salary of $107,000 for the period until June 30, when interim superintendent Rochelle Cox's term was set to end.
Cox's contract includes a clause stating that it can end early if a permanent superintendent is ready to start before July.
Board Chair Sharon El-Amin said at a board meeting earlier this month that the flexibility of that clause could allow the new superintendent to work with and "almost shadow" Cox, allowing for a smooth leadership transition.
Sayles-Adams' three-year superintendent contract would begin on July 1. In the first year of that contract, she'd be paid $266,000 — a 15% increase over her predecessor. By year three, her annual salary would be $276,000. She will also receive a $600 monthly allowance to use her private vehicle for work, according to the contract.
Cox and former Superintendent Ed Graff each made $230,000 a year. Cox's monthly vehicle allowance was $450.
After choosing Sayles-Adams as the finalist Dec. 1, board members agreed they wanted to offer her a "regionally competitive" salary, naming St. Paul and Anoka-Hennepin school among comparable districts.
Joe Gothard, superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools, will receive a $261,120 salary next school year and $266,342 the following year, according to his contract.
Cory McIntyre, the superintendent of the Anoka-Hennepin school district — the state's largest — earned $270,000 in his first year on the job. McIntyre is also eligible for a performance bonus.
Sayles-Adams makes $240,000 per year as superintendent for Eastern Carver County. That southwest suburban district serves about 9,600 students; Minneapolis enrolls about 28,000 students.
Board Member Lori Norvell said at the Dec. 1 board meeting that she "wholeheartedly" believed the superintendent of Minneapolis schools deserves a competitive salary.
The new leader of the city's schools will take over after a few tumultuous years in the district, marked by the pandemic and a teachers' strike. And tough decisions — including potential school closures — are ahead as the district faces declining enrollment and the 2024 sunsetting of millions in pandemic relief funds.
"This is going to be a tough job. We know that," Norvell said. "We are asking someone to come into this district to learn a lot and listen to a lot of differing opinions."