LUSD chief gets ex­ten­sion to lead dis­trict to 2022

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Wes Bow­ers NEWS-SEN­TINEL STAFF WRITER

“The state had some bud­get is­sues from 2008 to 2012, and she (Cathy Ni­chols-Washer) was able to get the dis­trict through some hard times. Not all school dis­tricts can say that.”

Gary Knack­st­edt, pres­i­dent Lodi Uni­fied School Dis­trict board

Lodi Uni­fied School Dis­trict’s su­per­in­ten­dent will be lead­ing the agency through 2022.

The LUSD Board of Ed­u­ca­tion on Tues­day night unan­i­mously ap­proved a one-year con­tract ex­ten­sion for Cathy Ni­chols-Washer.

The ap­proval length­ens her con­tract through June 30, 2022.

In 2016, the board and Ni­chols-Washer agreed on a three-year con­tract with a base salary of $248,676, ac­cord­ing to school dis­trict doc­u­ments.

With that con­tract’s ap­proval, her salary would be in­creased an­nu­ally by the same per­cent­age as other dis­trict man­agers.

For the 2018-19 school year, her salary was $268,296. There were no de­tails on Tues­day’s agenda as to how much the su­per­in­ten­dent’s salary would in­crease.

Ac­cord­ing to dis­trict spokes­woman Chelsea Vongehr, the board can ex­tend the con­tract each year so it re­mains a three-year term.

Board pres­i­dent Gary Knack­st­edt on Wed­nes­day said he was more than pleased her con­tract had been ex­tended.

“She’s been a real pos­i­tive leader for the dis­trict,” he said. “The state had some bud­get is­sues from 2008 to 2012, and she was able to get the dis­trict through some hard times. Not all school dis­tricts can say that.”

In 2009, the state gov­ern­ment pro­posed a bud­get that in­cluded $15 bil­lion in cuts to ser­vices, in­clud­ing $8.1 bil­lion in cuts to ed­u­ca­tion.

De­spite the state’s fi­nan­cial cri­sis, Ni­chols-Washer was able to ex­pand sev­eral pro­grams, in­clud­ing Ca­reer Tech­ni­cal Ed­u­ca­tion at both Lincoln Tech­ni­cal Academy and the dis­trict’s high schools.

“She’s valu­able to our dis­trict and we’re lucky to have her,” Knack­st­edt added.

Prior to com­ing to LUSD in 2008, Ni­chols-Washer served as su­per­in­ten­dent for Man­teca Uni­fied School Dis­trict for eight years.

Her 11-year ten­ure in Lodi makes her the sec­ond-long­est serv­ing su­per­in­ten­dent in the state. She also has the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the first woman to be­come dis­trict su­per­in­ten­dent.

“I feel very for­tu­nate to have served the Lodi Uni­fied com­mu­nity for over a decade,” Ni­chols-Washer said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day.

“We have an ex­cel­lent board of ed­u­ca­tion who re­ally cares about the stu­dents, and the dis­trict is strong on all lev­els. It is truly a great place to work and learn, and I’m ex­cited for the dis­trict’s fu­ture.”

The ex­ten­sion was ini­tially sched­uled to be ap­proved at the June 18 meet­ing, but board mem­ber Court­ney Porter re­quested the item be tabled, cit­ing he and his col­leagues were still con­duct­ing an eval­u­a­tion of the su­per­in­ten­dent’s per­for­mance.

At that meet­ing, he said he felt the board was rush­ing to ap­prove the ex­ten­sion, and that it should be given ex­tra time to pro­vide Ni­chol­sWasher with more feed­back be­fore any ap­provals.

On Tues­day, he ex­pressed his sup­port for Ni­chols-Washer and the ex­ten­sion to her con­tract.

“I look for­ward to our next meet­ing in a pos­i­tive way so our su­per­in­ten­dent has a clear idea of what this board wants, so she can go for­ward with her ex­per­tise and lead this school dis­trict as well as she has done over the many years as our su­per­in­ten­dent,” he said.

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