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UPDATED AT 1:30 P.M.

March 13, 2006 &

Di Chiro&

s contract finalized

By Jennifer Squires

Ashland Daily Tidings

The Ashland School Board will offer Ashland Schools Superintendent Juli Di Chiro a three-year contract at tonight&

s school board meeting.

School board member Amy Patton reported this morning that attorneys for the two sides had reached a contract agreement; however, the contract will not become official until the school board votes to approve it.

&

We&

re going to make that decision at the meeting tonight,&

Patton said. &

What we have is a final draft contract.&

Until mid-February, there had been talk that the school board would only consider a one-year agreement with Di Chiro, who has been with the district for almost six years. Some community members railed against the suggestion, wearing buttons with the phrase &

Three More Years&

and urging the board to retain Di Chiro.

The board tentatively agreed to a three-year contract after Di Chiro&

s attempt to resign her post as chief executive officer of the school district during a board executive session in February. The board refused that resignation. Di Chiro reversed her decision when board members made commitments to improve their relationship and publicly stated they would pursue a three-year contract.

Through its lawyer, the school board sent contract language to Di Chiro&

s attorney after an executive session on Feb. 23. There was some negotiation last week, with most of the final word-smithing done through legal counsel.

Di Chiro could not be reached for comment.

Di Chiro&

s three-year contract expires June 30. In August, Di Chiro had asked the board to complete negotiations by the end of January. The board never agreed to the deadline, although it has been operating under the belief that if a new contract is not signed by March 14, Di Chiro&

s current contract will roll over for another year.

Legal counsel on each side has been negotiating the agreement since late November.

The draft contract gives Di Chiro approximately a 2.5 percent raise for next year, bringing her salary to $108,209.25. She will receive additional 2.5 percent increases each of the following two years. In addition, the school district will create an $8,000-a-year tax-sheltered annuity to be used for Di Chiro&

s insurance costs after retirement.

Other monetary changes include compensation for up to five unused vacation days, a monthly allocation to cover work-related, in-state transportation and a cell phone allowance.

Significant changes were also made to the termination language. Under the new contract, Di Chiro must give 90 days notice if she intends to leave. Likewise, the school board must give Di Chiro 30 days notice if they plan to terminate her for cause. Actions that could result in a firing are listed in the contract.

If the two parties reach a mutual agreement to terminate, that deal would circumvent the requirements to give notice.

In the final clause of the termination section, the school board retains the ability to fire Di Chiro without cause or consent. If that were to happen, the superintendent would receive a severance package of all salary and benefits she would have earned in the next six months or until the expiration date of the contract, whichever is less.

The contract cannot be terminated after Jan. 15, 2009; discussion on contract renewal will begin in June 2008.

Draft copies of the contract will be available at the school district administration office today, 885 Siskiyou Blvd., until 4 p.m. The school board will hear public comment on the contract tonight at 7 in the city council chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

Staff writer Jennifer Squires can be reached at 482-3456 x 225 or jsquires@dailytidings.com.