Portland school chief gets 3-year contract extension

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PORTLAND — Superintendent of Schools Emmanuel Caulk has had his contract extended to June 30, 2019.

The School Board unanimously approved the three-year extension Nov. 18. Caulk’s previous contract ran to 2016.

The extension includes a 1 percent cost-of-living increase of $1,375 that will increase his annual salary from $137,500 to almost $139,000. He’ll also receive a one-time, 1 percent bonus of $1,375.

During the meeting, Board Chairwoman Sarah Thompson cited reasons why Caulk’s contract was extended, including the Principal for a Day program, which brings business leaders into the schools, and ultimately lead to a recent STEM Expo.

Caulk also writes a monthly column for The Forecaster.

In a press release, Thompson said “It is important to demonstrate our support for (Caulk’s) continued leadership and his dedication to the mission of the Portland Public Schools.”

On Thursday, Thompson said the raise was “a gesture” of good faith. Because of rising city expenses, she said, 1 percent was the best the board could do.

“The board would liked to have given more than 1 percent, but we had to try to keep costs down as much we can,” Thompson said.

Not all of Caulk’s initiatives have been successful, however. In August he attempted to launch a public virtual school to compete with charter schools that are syphoning students and tuition, but was forced to pull the plug on the project in September.

The board last voted on Caulk’s contract in February, and extended his employment to 2016. At that time he declined a 5 percent pay raise. 

Caulk, a former school administrator from Philadelphia, was hired in 2012 on a three-year contract. Thompson said the district wants stability, since Caulk is now the fourth superintendent the schools have had in the last nine years.

“In the industry, the longest average is three years,” Thompson said. “We want to give him the time to really make a difference.”

She added that given Caulk’s goal of making “the Portland Public Schools become the best small urban school district in the country by 2017,” it was important to give him time and ensure he would be around longer than the average.

Thompson said by law a contract for superintendent cannot be longer than five years.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.