Superintendent wins praise, 7.5 percent raise
The Leander school board gave a nod of approval to Superintendent Bret Champion, giving him a 7.5 percent bump in pay and extending his contract by three years.
Trustees voted unanimously to extend Champion’s contract through January 2016 and to approve a base salary of $205,110, excluding benefits. Champion also receives about $25,000 in benefits, including car and cellphone allowances
Champion, during the annual critique Thursday night, was evaluated on improving student academic performance, managing the budget and maintaining a strong working relationship with the board and the community, among other measures.
“I’m frankly humbled and flattered,” said Champion, 43. “I love this school district. I love the community we have. I don’t want to be anywhere but here. What a great vote of confidence in what the teachers and staff are doing.”
Champion, who once shaved his head to fulfill a promise to his students, joined the district 19 years ago as theater arts elementary school teacher and rose to superintendent in 2008.
Trustees lauded Champion for steering the burgeoning 34,270-student district through continued growth — adding at least 1,000 students to its rolls annually — especially during recent state budget cuts to public education.
The district made tough decisions in the past two years, including keeping two finished schools dormant to save money.
During that time, Champion in 2010 forewent $20,000 worth of benefits and last year declined a 6 percent raise.
Under Champion’s leadership, the district made strides in closing the achievement gap for high school completion rates among lowincome students, from 70.2 percent for the class of 2007 to 94.6 percent in 2011.
Leander students in the spring also had high performance on the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness endof-course exams, outperforming most Central Texas and statewide averages.
Despite those achievements, critics this year have questioned whether the district has done enough to protect children from bullying.
The district has been sued at least three times this year by parents who allege it did little to protect their children. Law enforcement investigated the cases but took no action.
Champion said student safety remains a priority and this school year launched a new application for phones and computers that students can use to report bullying.
The software allows them to confidentially report incidents to teachers or staff members of their choosing.