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School board proposes new 3-year contract, pay raise for LPS superintendent
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School board proposes new 3-year contract, pay raise for LPS superintendent

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A year after deferring a raise, Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel would see an almost $5,000 pay increase as part of a proposed contract under consideration by the Lincoln Board of Education.

Joel's annual base salary would jump to $334,515 — a 1.51% increase — under a new three-year contract, which the board is expected to approve at its May 11 meeting.

Joel, who joined LPS in 2010, would continue to receive 15 days of paid leave for professional and consulting work, in addition to the vacation and sick leave parameters for all LPS administrators. The district would also continue to pay for the superintendent's $250,000 life insurance policy.

Joel’s total compensation package, which includes salaries and benefits, would increase by $6,084 to $391,638.

The proposed contract comes with a glowing evaluation of the superintendent and his work navigating the coronavirus pandemic and last year's social unrest. Board members credited Joel for his work in helping draft a pandemic response plan as schools went remote while also dealing with budgetary concerns.

"Dr. Joel was exactly the right leader at the right time to bring us through this situation successfully," board member Don Mayhew said in the superintendent's appraisal.

The board identified strengthening equity, diversity and inclusion in the evaluation as a goal for the superintendent to pursue in the upcoming year.

Board members also will consider new contracts for Joel's top executives, which would come with the same 1.51% salary increase for next year. That's slightly lower than the 1.53% increase approved for teachers in the district.

In 2020, Joel and his executive team turned down raises even as the pandemic introduced novel challenges to running the district. He recalled coordinating with his team when the district shut down school last March, having to meet on Zoom to make those decisions instead of in person.

Now, with a post-pandemic world on the horizon, Joel said he is grateful for his team's work in those early stages.

“There was never once where we thought this is what we would be rounding past,” Joel said.

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Board member Barb Baier also praised Joel and the executive team, noting the long days district workers put in when the pandemic unfurled.

“This has been a really, really rough year,” she said.

Here are the proposed salaries for the executive team in 2021-22:

* $222,570 for Liz Standish, associate superintendent for business affairs, and Eric Weber, associate superintendent of human resources.

* $218,170 for John Neal, associate superintendent for general administration and governmental relations.

* $212,562 for Matt Larson, associate superintendent of instruction.

Steve Joel

Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel

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Contact the writer at zhammack@journalstar.com or 402-473-7225. On Twitter @zach_hammack

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Education reporter/Night content coordinator

Zach Hammack, a 2014 UNL graduate, has always called Lincoln home. He previously worked as a copy editor at the Journal Star and was a reporting intern in 2017. Now, he covers students, teachers and schools as the newspaper’s K-12 reporter.

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