With his first three-year deal nearing an end and positive job reviews in hand, South Washington County Schools Superintendent Keith Jacobus entered contract-renewal talks with some momentum on his side.

But he also has had to make plans for budget cuts in 2015-16.

As such, the district said, Jacobus requested that his salary stay at $186,100 in the first year of a new three-year contract approved by the school board on Thursday night. Under the agreement, Jacobus could receive raises in the second and third years if the district's finances improve.

Earlier this month, the school board said in its midyear evaluation of Jacobus that it was pleased with his performance, passion and vision.

"Dr. Jacobus is a leader of great integrity. He works incredibly hard and long hours, and he is dedicated to the students and community," Board Chairman Ron Kath said. "Dr. Jacobus is leading the district in the right direction." 

Jacobus came to the district in July 2012 by way of the Osseo School District, but spent most of his career in Colorado. When he started in South Washington County, he vowed to make 100 visits in 100 days, and ended up with 128 meetings in all. He has continued to win board praises for outreach efforts that include hosting "parent university" sessions and coffee meetings with community members.

Last year, several key administrators left the district, fueling speculation "there must be a problem," Jacobus said. But he added it was not true, and Kath issued a statement saying the moves were not a negative reflection on Jacobus but part of the normal course of business for districts as new budget years approach and job opportunities arise elsewhere.