TUPELO – The Tupelo School Board gave a public vote of confidence to superintendent Gearl Loden on Tuesday, giving the schools chief a 5 percent raise.
The raise will bump Loden’s salary to about $191,100 on a four-year contract that runs through June 30, 2017. The board had extended Loden’s contract by a year earlier this year.
The pay increase came as the board completed its first evaluation of the superintendent, whose tenure began on June 1, 2012. It is significant considering the turmoil in the school district that preceded Loden’s hiring.
School board President Beth Stone said the board was pleased with the way Loden met every goal it had: raising student achievement, improving community involvement and teacher morale and managing the district’s finances.
“We’re very happy and we want to make sure he stays,” Stone said. “We’re certainly pleased with the job he’s done, and we want to make sure he knows how much we value him and his team.
“…Everyone remembers the struggles we’ve been through to bring the community together to support public schools. There is a whole different atmosphere he’s created.”
The motion was made by board member Rob Hudson and seconded by Eddie Prather. It passed unanimously.
Prather, the longest serving board member, said the district has made great strides under Loden.
“We’re a long way from where we were,” said Prather, whose term began in March 2009.
Loden said he wants to build on the district’s efforts.
“It is always nice to receive a positive evaluation,” he said. “I believe we’ve had a wonderful first year. We want to take what we’ve done as a team in the district and continue to provide teachers support.”
He also credited others in the district.
“I’m one person,” he said. “We have a great leadership team, board support and community support.
“At the end of the day, it goes back to the classroom. The teachers are on the ground every day working hard and building relationships. We’re trying to provide them with the support and resources they need.”