Hairston decides to stay

Superintendent not promised a raise, Balto. Co. officials say

November 17, 2005|By LIZ F. KAY | LIZ F. KAY,SUN REPORTER

Baltimore County schools chief Joe A. Hairston will remain in his post after withdrawing from consideration to lead a Virginia school system, Baltimore County school officials confirmed yesterday while saying no deal had been struck to give him a raise.

Hairston had "implied" that the Baltimore County school board had improved his compensation, a Virginia Beach school board member said yesterday. However, Baltimore County board members said the first opportunity to discuss any changes would be at Tuesday's board meeting.

"We're ecstatic that ... he will be able to continue his work in Baltimore County," school board President Tom Grzymski said yesterday.

He added, however, that the board had not promised Hairston a raise or an increase in other benefits for remaining in charge of the district's 107,000 students.

"We have not had any opportunity to talk with him as a board," Grzymski said. "Any modification to the contract has to happen in open session, which will then be part of the meeting Tuesday."

Hairston said through a spokeswoman that he would make a public statement after the board meeting.

"He doesn't want to play out publicly his relationship with his employer," said schools spokeswoman Kara Calder.

Daniel D. Edwards, the Virginia Beach school board chairman, said Hairston called Tuesday to pull out of the running, before the Virginia board met to consider negotiating a contract with him.

"It was clearly a case where they were able to satisfy his short-term needs for the next couple of years," Edwards said.

Virginia Beach board members announced two weeks ago that they had selected Hairston as their "preferred finalist" to lead the city's 75,000-student school system.

Hired in 2000, Hairston earns more than $250,000 in base pay and bonuses. County school board members gave him a $45,000 raise when they renewed his contract in 2004 for another four years, based on the school system's progress toward its goals. He also received a 4 percent increase this year, which brought his base salary to $239,200.

In addition, the board voted in August to give the superintendent a $10,800 bonus.

Hairston began his career in Prince George's County, where he spent 27 years as a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent. With his five years in Baltimore County, his tenure in Maryland exceeds three decades, allowing him to retire with full benefits. His pension would be calculated based on an average of his highest three years' pay in the state.

School board member Donald L. Arnold also said the board had not agreed to raise Hairston's salary in response to the interest from Virginia Beach. In exchange for Hairston's decision, "he gets the pleasure of working with us," Arnold said, jokingly, adding that he is glad the superintendent chose to stay.

"We have developed a certain amount of momentum within the school system," Arnold said. "It's great to be able to keep up that momentum now and not lose any of the steps along the process."

Some community members agreed.

"This is amazingly wonderful," said Karen Yarn of Reisterstown, chairwoman of the school system's Citizen Advisory Committee on gifted-and-talented education. She had implored the board at its last meeting "to do everything possible to make sure this man stays with us for the duration of his period."

Ella White Campbell, who leads the school system's Minority Achievement Advisory Group, said she is glad Hairston will remain. "I think it was a wise decision on his part," she said. "It shows his concern for children, in that he wants to finish what he started."

liz.kay@baltsun.com

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