DRACUT -- The Dracut School Committee voted unanimously, 5-0, Monday night to approve and sign a three-year contract with the district's new superintendent, Steven Stone, that pays him $145,000 annually through June 30, 2015.
Chairman Michael McNamara said Stone's contract qualified as "historic" because it also includes a clause that is unprecedented in Dracut and surrounding school districts, requiring Stone to pay an early-termination damages fee of $15,000 should he leave the job in less than three years.
"The intent here is not to penalize Mr. Stone, but to keep him to his word that he is going to stay in the district long-term," said McNamara. "We heard, loud and clear, from the community that this was a provision they wanted to see in the contract."
Stone is succeeding Stacy Scott in a job Scott held for two years before departing on July 1 with a year remaining on his contract to become Framingham's schools chief.
Stone was present for Monday night's vote and took part in an official contract-signing as the board met in the Dracut School District's administration building.
"I'm honored and grateful to the committee for the expression of confidence you have in me," Stone said after the vote. "I'm looking forward to coming on board and working with the committee and the passionate teachers and administrators in this town."
Several School Committee members praised Stone for his having voluntarily attended recent Dracut School Finance Committee meetings as part of his preparation to become superintendent.
"This is my third superintendent since I've been on the board, and I believe this time we've gone through a (selection) process that will yield great results, most importantly for the 4,000 students in the school district," said board member Mike Miles.
Vice Chairman Matthew Sheehan noted that it took the board only two days to successfully negotiate contract terms with Stone, compared to "a couple of weeks" to reach its previous deal with Scott.
"(Stone) has been at finance meetings, talking to staff -- he is the guy for the job," said Sheehan. "I can't wait until Aug. 1 when he can start and hit the ground running."
Sheehan said he believes the contract's $15,000 early-termination damages clause is unprecedented in the state.
"And it speaks to Mr. Stone's character that he had no hesitation in signing off on that clause," added Sheehan. "Mr. Stone has indicated he wants to end his career in Dracut, and I hope he'll be here for at least the next 10 years. He's going to do wonderful things here."
Stone's Dracut contract was pro-rated to begin Aug. 1, when he will be contractually free from his current job as special-education director in Peabody. Campbell Elementary School Principal Deborah Koniowka has been filling in as acting superintendent.
The pact provides Stone with 25 vacation days, 16 holidays, three personal days and 15 sick days annually.
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