Contract for Sarasota County Superintendent sparks new controversy among School Board

Contract for Sarasota County Superintendent sparks new controversy among School Board

SARASOTA (WWSB) - School Superintendent Dr. Todd Bowden’s contract is up for renewal and now, it’s the latest topic causing controversy among the Sarasota County School Board.

Initially, members of the School Board said they thought they’d be discussing the renewal of Todd Bowden’s annual contract.

But Chair Jane Goodwin said she’s drafted a proposal that will keep him in office for four years instead.

“He’s a visionary, he’s an accountant, he understands the budget,” said Chair Goodwin.

Her list of accolades for Dr. Todd Bowden are many, which is why she said she’s drafted the new proposal for Dr. Bowden.

She wants a new four year agreement that would require the vote of four out of five Board members if they wanted to get rid of him.

“This ensures that we take the politics out of the selection or the criteria for his continuing as Superintendent," said Goodwin. "That’s why I put that in the contract.”

If this contract is approved, his base salary will begin at $207,000 in 2020, to increase $5,000 every year through June of 2023.

Dr. Bowden would also be eligible for a $15,000 bonus each year, plus an additional $12,500 towards retirement.

It’s a good chunk of change, but one Goodwin feels the public doesn’t need to weigh in on.

“I always like the public involved with everything we do," she said. "But this is an exception, this is a contract. There are contracts that people do not weigh in on because people don’t understand all of the details of the contract.”

It was a statement other members of the Board found appalling.

“Did she really say that?” questioned Board member Eric Robinson. "I think we have a very knowledgeable and informed electorate. And I think they can grasp that someone is going to get $250,000 in four years, regardless of how good they do their job. I think our citizens can understand what that means.”

Robinson said in his opinion, everyone in the District should be treated the same.

“If the teachers are on an annual contract, the Superintendent should be on an annual contract. If the teachers have to have merit pay, the Superintendent should be on merit pay,” Robinson said.

Dr. Todd Bowden was unavailable for comment Monday, but did send the following statement:

“The School Board Chairwoman, Jane Goodwin, has issued a proposed contract extension for me as superintendent of Sarasota County Schools. I look forward to hearing her thoughts and those of the other school board members, on Tuesday. For me personally, I have had the pleasure of serving our students, school leaders, teachers and staff for nearly two years, and very much look forward to continuing to lead this amazing school district, and forging a path for our students to achieve academic and personal success.”

The Board will discuss this new contract for the Superintendent during a workshop first thing Tuesday morning. Then, during their regular afternoon board meeting, they’ll vote on it.

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