Weast asks Montgomery school board for new contract

Superintendent wants to stay another four years

Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2007

Montgomery County schools Superintendent Jerry D. Weast has written a formal letter to the school board asking for a contract renewal.

Weast, the county’s highest-paid employee with a pay and benefits package that totals around $359,000 a year, is in the final year of a four-year contract. He has been superintendent since August 1999.

‘‘While I won’t stay forever, I would like to stay another contract term because I think there’s more work to be done,” Weast, 59, said Wednesday during a meeting with Gazette editors and reporters ‘‘I’m at a pivotal point in my life [where] I really want to make a difference, and I believe that we can do it here.”

The board has informally discussed Weast’s contract renewal and will continue talks during a retreat next week, said board President Nancy Navarro (Dist. 5) of Silver Spring. ‘‘This has to be treated as a personnel matter,” she said.

The board plans to vote on Weast’s contract extension during its Feb. 13 meeting in Rockville. ‘‘He wants a renewal of his contract as it is,” Navarro said.

The letter, sent last week to the board, outlines several successes during his seven-year tenure, which includes raising test scores in elementary schools and narrowing the achievement gap for some black and Hispanic students.

If his contract is renewed, Weast intends to focus on increasing school safety and addressing racial tension in schools.

Board member Sharon W. Cox (At-large) of Germantown introduced a resolution during Tuesday’s meeting, which sets a framework to evaluate the board and superintendent’s work.

It also ‘‘establishes a rubric for the hiring of a new superintendent,” the resolution said.

That doesn’t apply to Weast, Navarro said.

‘‘I haven’t got any communications from my employer that they want me to go. I haven’t [gotten] any signals that...weren’t anything but positive,” Weast said. ‘‘I didn’t see that as a negative. I saw that as a positive, and I was told that it was coming, and I encouraged it.”