Without discussion, the Central School Board on Monday unanimously approved a three-year contract for Jason Fountain, the man recently selected to serve as superintendent.
When he takes over Jan. 1, Fountain will earn a base annual salary of $129,000, slightly higher than the man he is replacing, Michael Faulk, who is departing after more than a decade at the helm.
Unlike most superintendents who earn percentage-based annual raises, though, Fountain is insisting on receiving only the annual step increase that other Central teachers receive based on their years on the job. That works out to about $560 a year, said School Board President David Walker.
Walker said he and two other board members sat down with Fountain on Nov. 28 and worked out the terms quickly.
Fountain, director of secondary curriculum and instruction and former principal of Central Middle School, said he felt strongly about not getting higher raises than teachers get.
“I just felt like it was the right thing to do,” Fountain told The Advocate. “If in the future teachers get a raise, we can revisit that.”
Fountain beat out two other applicants to win the superintendent’s job. He was the only internal candidate to apply.
Fountain’s newly approved contract expires Dec. 31, 2020. Fountain said he did not retain his own lawyer and the two sides worked from a standard superintendent contract.
The contract calls for Fountain to maintain healthy financial reserves for the school system, which was also part of Faulk’s contract. Fountain and the board have yet to work out the academic performance goals, likely to occur in January.
The contract specifies that Fountain will have to meet three-quarters of these performance goals before he can earn his step increase.
Fountain will also receive a $1,200 a year allowance covering use of a cell phone, housing and a car as long as he resides in Central. Fountain said he’s in the process of trying to sell his house in Baton Rouge so his family can move to Central.
The board spent most of Monday’s meeting saying goodbye to Faulk, who is taking a job as executive director of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents starting Jan. 1. Faulk said his wife insists he keep working.
“She’s politicking for me to work because I can’t stay around the house,” Faulk said.
Central had won the right to break away from the East Baton Rouge Parish schools system and form its own district and Faulk was hired in 2007 to make it happen. Over the past decade, Central’s enrollment has nearly doubled and it has joined the top echelon of public school districts in Louisiana. On Monday, Faulk urged the board to support Fountain’s plans.
“(Central) can be better. It can be finer,” he said. “It can be world-class.”