Superintendent Lewis Ferebee could receive a big pay bump and a two-year contract extension if the Indianapolis Public School Board approves a proposed change to his contract announced this afternoon.
The amendment would raise Ferebee’s pay in several ways, boasting his total potential compensation to more than $287,000 per year beyond the benefits all administrators receive.
The IPS Board will hold a public hearing on the contract amendment 6 p.m., Feb. 16 at School 103.
The new contract would raise his base salary to $209,880, up 6 percent from his current salary of $198,000. The raise would be retroactive to July 1, 2015. He would also be eligible for a $35,000 per year bonus, based on his performance. Ferebee may currently earn a bonus of up to $25,000 per year, and last year he was awarded $21,000.
The announcement of Ferebee’s raise coincides with the district sending a letter today telling teachers their long-delayed raises would be paid this month, also with retroactive pay to July 2015. Under the proposed contract, Ferebee would not receive a raise in 2016-2017, and in the following years, any raises he receives would mirror the average salary increase for teachers.
But the bulk of Ferebee’s pay increase would come in the form of more than $30,000 a year in new contributions to Ferebee’s retirement savings. Under his current contract, Ferebee receives the same benefits as other IPS administrative certified employees, including retirement benefits. If the amendment is approved, the district would make an additional retirement contribution of 15 percent of his base annual salary. With the proposed raise, that would be $31,482 per year. Ferebee also receives a $12,000 per year stipend for using his own car.
The amendment would extend his contract by two years, to June 30, 2019, with an automatic extension each year that he receives an effective or highly effective evaluation. His current contract is set to expire June 30, 2017. But extending the contract does not guarantee he will stay with the district. He is free to resign or retire at any time.
One reason why the board may be considering such a dramatic pay bump is to reduce the chance of Ferebee getting poached by another urban district. Ferebee has won praise during his two-year tenure, and he was recently spotlighted by Education Week magazine as a “Leader to Learn From.”
Ferebee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
IPS Board President Mary Ann Sullivan was not immediately available for comment. But in December, she gave Ferebee a glowing review when discussing his evaluation and the performance bonus he received.
“It was a very positive, positive review and positive conversation,” she told Chalkbeat. “We have high expectations. … (But) I think I would be proud to get the evaluation he got for his work.”
Even with the raise, Ferebee’s pay will still be below the average salary for a superintendent in an urban school district with fewer than 50,000 students. That was $211,000 per year in 2014, according to a survey by the Council of Great City Schools.
The amendment would also create a new bonus pool for members of the leadership team, equal to the bonus Ferebee receives.
Chalkbeat Indiana is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.