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Douglas County School Board approves contract for new superintendent

Five-year term will begin on July 1 if deal is accepted by Thomas Tucker


The school board's choice to become the new superintendent of the Douglas County School District is being offered an annual salary of $258,420, according to a contract unanimously approved by the board April 17.

School board President David Ray said he has every reason to believe Thomas Tucker, superintendent of Princeton City Schools in Cincinnati, will agree to the contract.

“I just want to note that truly it's been a team effort on Dr. Tucker's part,” Ray said at the April 17 school board meeting. “He did not come in trying to get the highest-paying salary in Colorado. He came in saying, 'What can I do to be a team player for this district.'”

Tucker's five-year deal would begin on July 1 and end on June 30, 2023, according to the contract, which was posted on the district's website during the school board meeting. Tucker must establish residency in Douglas County by July 1. To help with the transition of duties, Tucker is requested to start working with the district five to 10 days prior to July 1, the contract states.

The salary offered to Tucker had to compare to “generous” salaries offered to past Douglas County superintendents, Ray said. Elizabeth Fagen, who left for a superintendent job in Texas in 2016, was paid an annual salary of more than $270,000. Interim Superintendent Erin Kane has been making an annual salary of $240,000.

The highest paid superintendent in Colorado is Jason Glass of Jefferson County Public Schools, who was hired last July at an annual salary of $265,000.

At the district in Cincinnati, Tucker earns a base salary of $145,000, according to a local news outlet there.

“It's very difficult for us to say, `All of a sudden, by the way, we want you to work for far less than other leaders have in this district,'” Ray said at the board meeting. “I would reference that our previous permanent superintendent was brought on for $273,715. Just that notion alone should tell you that we have a man of integrity that recognizes it's not about money.”

At a special meeting on April 5, the seven school board members voted unanimously to hire Tucker after a months-long nationwide search.

Born and raised in northeastern Arkansas, Tucker served 27 years in the Kansas and Ohio public school systems as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal and director of secondary curriculum, according to his website, www.tstucker.me. In 2015, he was named superintendent of the Princeton City School District, serving 5,633 students.

Tucker was named National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators in 2016 and the National Alliance of Black School Educators in 2013. In 2012, he helped pass an incremental levy and no-new taxes $40 million bond issue, according to his bio on DCSD's website. He was the first superintendent in Ohio to attempt and pass an incremental levy and bond issue on a single ballot.

Many community members who watched Tucker speak at forums and during public interviews applauded the board's selection, lauding Tucker for his driven demeanor and student-centered mentality.

“He obviously looks at the whole child and the best interest of each child,” said parent Kristin DeBeer. “He just has an aura about him that makes me feel like he will be able to manage conflict with authority but also understanding and patience.”


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