In its Tuesday, June 19 meeting the Williamsburg-James City County School Board unanimously approved a four-year contract extension, from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2022, for Superintendent Dr. Olwen Herron.
Dr. Herron, who was appointed superintendent in February 2017, originally was operating under a three-year contract that extended through June 30, 2020. According to School Board Chair Kyra Cook, the board decided to review and extend Dr. Herron’s contract for two key reasons – her superb performance as the school division’s chief administrative officer and the need to ensure continuity for this strong school system.
“The average tenure for a superintendent in Virginia is surprisingly short, about two-and-a-half years. Dr. Herron’s service, both as an interim superintendent and as superintendent, has been exemplary. Consequently, the School Board decided to invest in continuity for our community, by effectively making a commitment to her and, in turn, asking her to make a commitment to Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools.”
Mrs. Cook notes that under Dr. Herron’s leadership, the school division has recorded many accomplishments. These include efforts to ensure that employees have a strong voice in day-to-day operations. “She has embarked upon focus groups with employees such as support, administrative and instructional staff in an effort to foster trust, transparency and teamwork across the division. She has established a Teacher Forum designed to connect leadership with its instructional staff. She has also proved an effective advocate for meeting the needs of this school division. For example, she successfully made a strong, data-driven case that the Williamsburg City Council and the James City County Board of supervisors fully fund the school system’s operating budget request for next fiscal year,” Mrs. Cook said.
Other accomplishments cited include: Full state accreditation of all 15 schools; Top Ten recognition in 2017 Digital School Districts survey; the construction of a fourth middle school; the recognition of Stonehouse Elementary as a National Blue Ribbon School; the establishment of a teacher-led professional development conference; and a ranking of 16 among the state’s 132 school divisions in Niche’s 2017 Best School Districts designations (WJCC scored an overall A grade in this rigorous assessment of academic and student-life data).
Under the new contract, Dr. Herron’s base salary is increased by 3 percent, from $180,000 to $185,540. “I think it is important to note that Dr. Herron is receiving the same salary increase that WJCC PS employees are averaging in the new fiscal year. In fact, a compelling feature of this contract is the fact the School Board will not be re-negotiating her salary each year as is typical in superintendent contract negotiations. Her salary will match the average increase employees receive. I think it important to note that Dr. Herron felt this was the most equitable way to proceed and the Board honored her request.”
Mrs. Cook noted there were other changes to Dr. Herron’s contract which included small increases in her travel allowance and the contribution to her deferred compensation account and the underwriting of disability insurance.