OXFORD – SAD 17 directors unanimously approved School Superintendent Mark Eastman’s salary and benefits package for the school year.

For the fourth straight year, Eastman received no salary increase and has not asked for one. His salary will remain at $100,000.

“I did not request an increase for the current year,” said Eastman, who said last year his emphasis during salary negotiations was to get more assistance in the administrative wing.

With the hiring of Assistant Superintendent Rick Colpitts, that move has freed up time for Eastman to be more proactive and reflective.

“I was running ragged,” Eastman said of his work schedule prior to Colpitts’ hiring after the previous assistant superintendent left for another job. “I feel I’m not always behind the eight ball now because I do have help. I have been able to be more reflective. That has been a plus.”

Waterford School Board Director Bill Hanger, who chairs the negotiation committee, said that he believes it’s time for Eastman to receive a raise.

“He’s been very sensitive to the fact that lots of citizens don’t make a lot of money and he hasn’t wanted it increased,” said Hanger. “I think he deserves a raise.”

The revised benefits package, which covers the 2006-2007 school year, took about a month and two conversations to negotiate, said Hanger, who noted that contract negotiations with the superintendent have almost always been non-controversial.

Although the salary and benefits issue is normally discussed in June, prior to the new fiscal year, Eastman said the discussion was displaced this year by other contract negotiations, such as the teachers’ contract.

Hanger said the only changes made in the superintendent’s salary and benefits is a slight increase in the monthly reimbursement for car travel from $420 a month to $500 a month, which he said probably doesn’t reflect the amount of travel the superintendent does or the amount that is allowed for mileage under federal guidelines.

The agreement also provides an additional $100 a year from $600 to $700 for the purchase of a life insurance term policy and an agreement that for every year that Eastman works past his one-year contract, he will receive the difference that he must pick up to pay for medical insurance. For example, if he works three more years, he will received that difference for three additional years of medical insurance coverage.

The next step in the process is the superintendent’s evaluation, which is set to take place next week. That process allows board members to evaluate Eastman’s performance and set goals for the coming year. The information is then forwarded to the chairman of the personnel committee for review.

The results of the evaluation will be the basis for the renewal of his contract for fiscal 2009 if Eastman chooses to stay. Eastman has worked in the education field for more than 35 years, 13 years as SAD 17 superintendent.

Eastman, 62, said he agreed to stay at least through implementation of the school consolidation law before reassessing his future.

Besides Hanger, the negotiation team consists of Curtis Cole of Paris, Dy-Anne Gurney of Norway, Tom Moore of Otisfield, John Palmer and Olive Sanborn of Oxford and Elizabeth Swift of Hebron. School board Chairman Ron Kugell serves as an ex-officio member.

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