, Salem, MA

November 20, 2013

Superintendent gets 1-year deal


---- — SALEM — School Superintendent Stephen Russell was given a one-year contract extension this week by the School Committee.

School Committee member Jim Fleming had proposed a three-year extension for Russell a few weeks ago, but the motion was not supported by a majority of board members.

Mayor Kim Driscoll, the board chairwoman, said most members wanted to link the superintendent’s contract to the accelerated improvement plan, now in its second year. With this extension, Russell’s contract will expire at the end of the 2014-15 school year and the conclusion of the school district’s three-year turnaround effort.

“This contract lines up with our turnaround plans,” Driscoll said. Before entering into a new agreement, she said, “we want to be able to assess our performance.”

Russell was hired in 2011, a few months before the school district was given Level 4 status by the state due to Bentley Elementary School’s low scores on the MCAS exam. The school department was given three years to show significant improvement at Bentley or face possible state takeover.

Russell, whose current salary is $173,449, was given a 1 percent raise this year and a 3 percent raise next year.

“I remain committed to the city’s schools and the important work underway,” Russell said in an email.

Tom Dalton can be reached at