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School district approves new superintendent’s contract 

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Washoe County’s School Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved a four-year contract for superintendent-select Joseph Ernst. Ernst, an internal candidate, was chosen in mid-May to succeed outgoing Superintendent Susan Enfield.

There are several changes from the contract offered to Enfield. Starting compensation for Ernst is reduced from the prior contract, from $310,000 to $280,000. The contract also removes cost-of-living adjustments but adds a performance-based salary increase of at least 2%. The district also did not offer Ernst 8% of the annual base salary to a qualified tax-sheltered annuity or deferred compensation account. 

A longevity bonus is being offered in years three and four of his term, provided the superintendent still serves in the position. In year three, the superintendent will receive a bonus of 5% of the annual base salary, and in year four, the bonus is increased to 8%. 

A vehicle allowance was reduced from $800 to $500, and expense reimbursements were changed from “all reasonable and appropriate out-of-pocket expenses reimbursed” to reimbursements tied to board policy expenses. 

Previously, up to $25,000 could be reimbursed for relocation expenses, but in the new contract, there are no relocation expenses since Ernst already lives here.

The contract can be read here

“The seven of us at this dais, it is our responsibility to support his development and make sure he knows what our expectations are,” Trustee Beth Smith said. “It’s important to us to be good stewards of the community and taxpayers’ dollars as well.” 

“Every contract developed at this level, the benchmark is the previous contract,” Trustee Adam Mayberry added. “Mr. Ernst is a first-time superintendent, and there are some things he’s going to need support on. It’s our job to give him the tools to do that.” 

Mayberry said this contract also makes the superintendent more accountable to the board and incentivizes them to stay long-term. 

“I think this is going to be the start of a very beautiful relationship,” Trustee Alex Woodley said. 

Trustees approved the contract unanimously. 

Kelsey Penrose
Kelsey Penrose
Kelsey Penrose is a proud Native Nevadan whose work in journalism and publishing can be found throughout the Sierra region. She received degrees in English Literature and Anthropology from Arizona State University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing with the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe. She is an avid supporter of high desert agriculture and rescue dogs.

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