By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – The Tupelo School Board gave the district’s superintendent a vote of confidence on Tuesday by amending his contract to include a significant increase in pay.
Superintendent Gearl Loden now will receive an automatic 3 percent cost of living increase annually. The board also will provide $6,000 annually in deferred compensation that will not be fully vested until the contract expires.
The board voted in January to extend Loden’s contract by a year. It now expires June 30, 2018. That means he could receive an extra $24,000 in deferred compensation if he remains in the district until then. The vested amount is skewed toward the end of his contract, meaning if he leaves early, he would only be entitled to a small percentage of that amount.
The 3 percent cost of living increase will raise Loden’s salary to $196,833 this year.
“Our board said we really like the way Dr. Loden is leading the district and we are impressed with his leadership,” said School Board President Rob Hudson. “We need to make sure we can keep him with our district long term. That is what generated this discussion and led to this amendment in his contract. We believe in him, and we want him to stay with us.
“…He always has been and always will be held accountable to the board for his performance,” Hudson said.
Hudson also noted, as a recent example, Loden’s leadership in ensuring Joyner students were able to return to school six days after a tornado significantly damaged their building.
“His capacity to manage so many components is impressive,” Hudson said. “He is great in his ability to find the right people and assign them the right responsibilities and to manage the system. He values people and he demonstrates that.”