School officials are hoping a special board meeting scheduled for Tuesday will provide the consensus needed for negotiators to sign, seal and deliver on incoming superintendent Lori Romano’s contract — a point of emphasis since she was selected back in March.
Board Chairman Matt Foreman scheduled the special, public school board meeting Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the school board district office at 919 North Broad St. in Brooksville.
The most recent round of negotiations took place last Friday between Romano, her legal counsel from Tampa, Foreman, School Board Attorney Dennis Alfonso and Executive Director of Business Services Heather Martin.
“We all attended a conference together,” Alfonso said, who was appointed by the board as spokesperson for contract negotiations. “Suffice it to say we had worked through a lot of issues, discussed a lot of changes they proposed, some we proposed, and made a lot of headway.”
Alfonso said that, at the end of last Friday’s discussions, Foreman did not feel comfortable enough with the annual compensation figure and wanted to ensure it was within the directive of the school board.
“The bottom line was we were at a number that Mr. Foreman wanted to be sure was still where the consensus of the board was,” Alfonso said. “I feel comfortable with where we are. We had a good meeting, we had a lot of discussion, a lot of points negotiated, and we were at a point where we just were unable to bring it to closure Friday, and just needed an opportunity for the board to act.”
The school board tasked Foreman with entering into contract negotiations with Romano, and during the first round of negotiations offered her a $101,000-per-contractual-year salary agreement, which is $1,000 more than the base advertised pay and about $5,000 more than what Romano currently makes as director of adult, community, secondary and virtual education at Martin County Public Schools.
Romano makes a $95,765 base salary with a $3,600 doctoral supplement for a total salary of $99,365, she said. The superintendent position was advertised at an annual salary between $100,000 and $130,000 with negotiable fringe benefits and an anticipated start date of July 1.
“We kicked a number of things back and forth,” Foreman said about most recent contract talks. “We had a good negotiating session, and we weren’t able to consummate a contract at this point. We were close, but to reach a deal while we were sitting at the table there, we were going to have to go past the compensation package I was comfortable with, so I thought it was a good idea to bring it back to the board to discuss.”
Since the school board voted to make Romano the next school superintendent, the five-member board has expressed a desire to have a contract finalized sooner rather than later, and an earlier draft of Romano’s proposed contract shows the board hoped to have a final contract negotiated by their tentative Tuesday meeting.
Board member Dianne Bonfield was not able to attend the board’s April 16 meeting, postponing a possible approval date to this month. Alfonso, the board’s attorney, said putting the special meeting on the agenda would allow Foreman to gauge whether the results of last Friday’s negotiations are acceptable to the board.
“There would be some additional comfort for the board chair to feel it was in the parameters of what the board felt was appropriate to get board approval,” he said.
The special meeting, which is public, will be followed by a school board workshop scheduled for 2 p.m., then a school board meeting later that evening at 7 p.m.