New Richland schools chief signs contract

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldMay 22, 2013 

Rick Schulte

Rick Schulte signed his contract to be the Richland School District's new superintendent Wednesday night, agreeing to a salary of $155,000 per year.

The board approved the contract during its regular meeting. It will last until June 30, 2016, with Schulte eligible for cost of living increases equal to the district's certificated employees.

"I've been looking forward to this day," board Chairman Rick Jansons said just before the board's vote to approve the contract.

Schulte, who will be the district's third superintendent in three years, will spend every other week working in Richland until his contract officially starts July 1. He said he was energized about starting the next chapter of his career in Richland.

"It's a real opportunity for me to be here now," he said.

The board selected Schulte to replace ousted superintendent Jim Busey at the end of April. Schulte was one of three finalists who made public visits to the district last month, meeting with community leaders and residents.

Schulte has spent the past 20 years leading the Oak Harbor School District on Whidbey Island. Board members said he was chosen largely because of his experience and drive.

Schulte's salary is about $5,000 less per year than Busey's contract was when he was fired. He'll have the same kind of benefits, such as access to health care, retirement plans and sick leave as the district's other employees.

The contract includes $20,000 in moving expenses and Schulte will receive 27 days of vacation per year. Unlike Busey, he will not have a district-provided vehicle but instead will be reimbursed for travel expenses. Jansons said Schulte specifically asked not to have a car provided to him, as it isn't for other district employees.

The contract also includes a morality clause. It requires the new superintendent to fulfill all aspects of his contract in a legal, ethical and moral manner.

Also Wednesday night:

-- The board directed administrators to research moving recess to before lunch at the district's elementary schools.

Nutrition Services Director Denise Christensen said there are several benefits to having recess first, including leading kids to eat more nutritious food, having quieter kids in the lunchroom, reducing wasted food and giving kids more energy for the classroom.

However, she acknowledged there are challenges, especially with scheduling and convincing teachers and students to change.

"You have to be committed to this if you're going to move with it," Christensen said.

One parent voiced concerns about the logistics of changing the current arrangement but others said change is needed to fight obesity and to help protect children with food allergies, who can be exposed to ingredients like peanut butter on playground equipment after lunch.

-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver

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