Wake Ed

Wake County school board extends Superintendent Jim Merrill’s contract

Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrill got plenty of praise and a contract extension on Tuesday but no raise from the school board.

School board members said they couldn’t give Merrill a raise because on the district’s finances. With a $275,000 base salary, Merrill is the second-highest paid superintendent in North Carolina behind Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Heath Morrison, whose base salary is $288,000.

The board extended Merrill’s contract one year through June 2018, the maximum four-year amount allowed under state law.

“It is the minimum we could do, recognizing the challenges the district faced in terms of financial resources and other things,” school board member Bill Fletcher said before the vote. “I am very excited and appreciative of the hard work and leadership our superintendent provides to us daily and the way that he empowers other people to become better than they are today and to lead us as a district.”

School board vice chairman Tom Benton said Merrill, who started August 2013, gives him confidence in the direction of the school system.

“This was the minimum that we could do at this point,” Benton said. “I wish that the climate was where we could do more at this point. I look forward to next year at this time – based on some performance goals that we’ll be looking at – being able to do something that is perhaps more rewarding.

But I’m not sure the general public fully appreciates the power of bringing some stability and professional expectations to our system where we now have some guidance of a true direction that we’re moving in.”

School board member Susan Evans pointed to the role Merrill will have in developing and implementing the new five-year strategic plan.

“Having Dr. Merrill at the helm of that, I feel very confident that you‘re going to see this school system moving in a great direction,” Evans said.

The vote was 8-0 with board member Kevin Hill not present.