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School board approves Champion contract

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Medford School District’s new superintendent Bret Champion will start off with a salary $23,000 higher than Brian Shumate’s under the terms of the contract the Medford School Board approved at its Monday meeting.

Board members expressed enthusiasm for Champion’s imminent arrival in Medford before voting unanimously to approve the contract, stipulating an annual $235,000 salary from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2022.

“We feel like we’re getting a wonderful superintendent, and we’re excited to move this process forward,” said Cynthia Wright, chair of the Medford School Board.

Suzanne Messer, board vice chair, was even more succinct.

“Yes, yes and yes,” she said.

Champion’s monthly travel allowance is equal to Shumate’s at $400. His vacation days, health insurance and contribution to his pension with the Public Employees Retirement System are also the same.

Another addition Champion’s new contract provides for is a $500 monthly ($6,000 annually) contribution to a tax-sheltered annuity, which is a retirement account available to a limited list of employees including public school and nonprofit employees.

Wright said Champion’s qualifications spurred the increase in salary and benefits: He’s had 11 years of experience as a superintendent of large districts, she said, including overseeing a growing and diversifying student population.

Champion left a $340,000 annual salary under his contract with Klein Independent School District in the Houston area. The district has about 54,000 students enrolled.

“We recognize that we’re going to have to be willing to pay a little bit more in order to take ourselves to the next level,” Wright said.

“It is in line with what’s out there in the rest of the state,” she went on. “I think we’re not out of line there.”

Brad Earl, chief financial officer for the district, said Champion’s salary will likely put him in the top 10 superintendent salaries in Oregon, according to data from the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators. Medford is the eighth-largest school district in the state.

Champion said in an emailed statement that he is “thankful for the conversation with the board that led to the finalization of the contract, and look forward to working with them, the schools, the community, and students to continue to provide a strong education in Medford.”

Shumate will leave for his new position as superintendent of Troup County Schools System in Troup County, Georgia, after June 30. Champion takes over his role July 1.

Champion said during a visit in May when the school board announced his hire that he plans to spend time learning his way around the area and meeting people.

“I get the great joy of setting up a big table and saying, ‘Come on, everybody, let’s talk about what our community wants for our students,’ ” Champion said, adding that “we need to hear from our students, and make sure that our student voice is included just alongside all of the adults in the system as well.”

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at ktornay@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay.

Brett Champion addresses the Medford School Board after being announced the new Superintendent Tuesday at Central Medford High School.{ }Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Meet Medford's new superintendent, Bret Champion. Champion is leaving his position as superintendent of Klein ISD in Harris County, Texas.Thumbnail