AURORA | The APS school board on Tuesday approved a three-year contract for incoming superintendent Michael Giles making him among the highest paid school administrators in the state.
The board voted unanimously April 27 to nominate Giles as the district’s next superintendent out of a slate of three finalists. He is currently an assistant superintendent in the neighboring Cherry Creek School District.
Under the contract, Giles’ first day will be July 1 and his term will run through June 2026, with an opportunity for it to be extended. Previous superintendent Rico Munn led the district for nearly a decade; his initial contract was extended three times.
Giles will make an annual base salary of $285,000 per year under the contract, with the opportunity to receive raises as part of the district’s salary schedule if board evaluations determine that he meets or exceeds expectations. The district will also reimburse Giles for his contribution to PERA, Colorado’s state employee pension plan, up to 4% of his base salary.
In 2018 Munn’s salary was renewed for $236,391 a year and in 2020 for $267,422 a year. Current interim superintendent Mark Seglem’s contract pays him an equivalent of a $260,000 annual salary for the six months he is in the role.
This will put APS at the top of the pack in the metro area for superintendent compensation, second only to Denver Public Schools. Jeffco Public Schools superintendent Tracy Dorland makes $279,916, Douglas County School District superintendent Erin Kane makes $250,000 and Cherry Creek Schools superintendent Chris Smith makes $268,000. Giles is paid a salary of $186,000 by Cherry Creek in his current assistant superintendent role.
On Thursday, the DPS school board voted 4-3 to give superintendent Alex Marrero a 10% pay raise, increasing his salary to $305,000, according to reporting in the Denver Post.
Benefits include 22 days of paid vacation, the use of personal electronic devices for district work and membership dues for the Colorado Association of School Executives, the American Association of School Administrators, Rotary International and other organizations approved by the board.
Prior to October of each year the board is required to meet with the superintendent to discuss goals and objectives for the school year, which will be put in writing and used for his evaluation. The board is responsible for meeting at least twice a year with the superintendent to discuss his performance under those metrics. Evaluations will be held in executive session.
The school board decided not to evaluate Munn last year due to disruptions from the pandemic, according to reporting from Chalkbeat Colorado, which he formally objected to.
The contract can be terminated by mutual agreement. The board can also fire the superintendent for cause or can terminate the contract with a severance payment, which is over $200,000 if the termination is within one year.
The board operates under a policy governance framework, which gives the superintendent broad latitude over the day-to-day operations of the school district. The board is responsible for setting policies to determine district outcomes and then evaluating the superintendent based on whether they achieved.
This was a point of contention at times during Munn’s tenure, particularly during the pandemic. The board at times struggled to focus on evaluating the district’s goals and did not always understand what authority remained with them and what was the superintendent’s.
“As long as the Superintendent uses any reasonable interpretation of the Board’s District Goals and Executive Limitations policies, the Superintendent is authorized to establish all further policies, make all decisions, take all actions, establish all practices, and pursue all activities,” Giles’ contract reads.
The board voted at an April meeting to slightly modify the superintendent’s job description, increasing to 25% the portion of the role that is intended to go towards assuming “administrative responsibility, accountability and leadership for achieving the district’s goals as adopted by the Board.”