New bill would allow superintendent contracts to be cut short for poor school letter grades

Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2023 - 6:07pm
Updated: Wednesday, January 25, 2023 - 7:44am
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The Arizona House Education Committee advanced a bill Tuesday that would allow school boards to terminate a superintendent's contract for violating board policy. 

Those contracts could also be cut short if one or more schools in the district receive a D or F letter grade for at least three years.

House Bill 2291 would prevent those superintendents from seeking damages or being paid out for the remainder of their contracts.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican David Cook, explained that while school boards adopt new policies each year, superintendent contracts last three years. During a committee meeting Tuesday, he brought up a conversation he had with a former legislator. 

“This Democrat person that I work great with when they’re down here said ‘you know, the day before I was sworn in on my school board, the previous board voted and I think it was $2 million that they paid out to a superintendent's contract,’” Cook said. 

Cook said the new board was left trying to figure out how to pay its new superintendent. Mark Barnes with the Arizona School Administrators spoke against the bill. He said firing a superintendent for poor school letter grades is a misuse of that system.

“The A through F system doesn’t measure progress or improvement from a point in time. We wish it did. We tried to get it to look more like that but it doesn’t look like that," Barnes said. "It is a summative letter grade that the superintendent has only a minor amount of control over.”

Some committee members had similar concerns, but voted yes, with the understanding that they’d like to tweak some of the bill’s language.