Here’s why the School Board keeps renewing Superintendent Aaron Spence’s contract

Superintendent Aaron Spence working with Virginia Beach students in a classroom. (Southside Daily file photo/Courtesy of Virginia Beach City Public Schools)
Superintendent Aaron Spence working with Virginia Beach students in a classroom. (Southside Daily file/Courtesy of Virginia Beach City Public Schools)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The School Board recently voted 8-3 to extend the contract of current Superintendent Aaron Spence until June 30, 2023, an extension they’ve granted him every year since the initial contract extension in 2015.

Victoria Manning, Laura Hughes and Carolyn Weems all voiced concerns at the board meeting on July 9, mainly over the practice of yearly contract extensions.

Spence was hired as superintendent starting July 1, 2014, with a four-year contract set to expire on June 30, 2018.

It is school board practice to renew the contract yearly rather than wait until the end of the contract period to renew, according to the School Board’s attorney.

Other than citing it as being always done that way every year, another reason given to the members, according to both Manning and Hughes, is the board is concerned about forgetting to renew the contract.

They have 120 days before the end of the superintendent’s contract to either renew, renegotiate or terminate.

So rather than put a reminder in their calendar, as Hughes suggested, the board conducts yearly renewals of the contract, making the four year contract extend an extra year every year.

“I see it as a vote of confidence,” Spence said when asked about the yearly renewal practice.

He also commented that was the way the School Board had always done things and it was up to the School Board to make any changes to that procedure.

Hughes said she feels as though having a yearly renewal process ties the School Board’s hands and said she thinks there should be more room for renegotiation and that a yearly renewal process wasn’t necessary.

“I feel like it’s four years or four months, nothing in between,” she said.

Manning echoed these concerns.

Weems was unable to be reached for comment but did voice similar concerns during the July 9 School Board meeting.

Spence will go on to lead the school district until June 30, 2023.

His contract was renewed with the following compensation package:

  • Base annual salary of $257,258.14.
  • Yearly performance based compensation of no more than 5 percent of annual salary.
  • Membership fees covered for five professional and three civic organizations of his choosing.
  • Annual communications allowance of $1,200.
  • Annual data allowance of $540.
  • Month transportation expenses allowance of $750.
  • Health care, access to the Virginia Retirement System and paid leave.

The school division has been fully accredited for the last two years under his leadership and he anticipates the division to remain that way.

Among other goals, Spence plans on working on the new strategic plan for the district, closing student achievement gaps and implementing new sustainability efforts.

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