DPS praises superintendent, extends her contract

Dayton’s school board voted 6-0 on Tuesday night to extend the contract of new Superintendent Rhonda Corr for three more years.

Corr was hired to a rare, one-year contract in June, replacing Lori Ward, who had led the district for six years. At that time, Dayton Public Schools was under threat of state takeover, but stronger state test results from the last year of Ward’s tenure halted that threat.

Now, both superintendent and school board say they’re looking to the future.

“We feel very confident based on her vision and based on some of the things that we’ve already begun to address,” school board President Robert Walker said of Corr. He hinted at some positive news coming in the next two months, but wouldn’t elaborate. “We’re really excited about some reports you’re going to receive, and feel that this community will become even more confident in us moving ahead with Superintendent Corr.”

The district remains at a pivotal point, facing decisions about the layoffs that were delayed in December, engaging in contract negotiations with the teachers union and trying to continue the academic momentum from last year’s state report card.

“We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we also have a lot of good people,” Corr said. “And we CAN do this work together, on behalf of kids.”

Corr’s contract is slightly more generous than Ward’s last contract, with the same base salary of $150,000, an annuity payment of $30,000 ($5,000 more than Ward’s), and the same $1,500 per month to cover expenses and mileage.

But Corr’s contract also has bonus opportunities, calling for $5,000 each if DPS meets the state’s third-grade reading indicator, or earns a “C” or higher in overall student growth, or has a school named a blue-ribbon school.

Corr’s first year has been a bit of a roller coaster. Days after she was hired, DPS faced strife with the city of Dayton over dueling levy plans to address preschool funding. That was followed in August by problems with district busing of students, then a monthlong controversy over the layoffs and job switches Corr proposed, many of which were eventually postponed.

But the district’s improved results on the state report card, highlighted by an “A” in student growth, overshadowed many problems. The district also won more than $10 million in school improvement grants last month and started planning for a dramatic increase in training and help for teachers and staff.

Teachers union President David Romick acknowledged this school year hasn’t been smooth sailing, but he took a positive approach.

“We look forward to a good working relationship with her and believe that a longer-term contract will lend itself to some consistency and additional good things happening in the district,” Romick said.

Corr said there are still many changes to be made, but added she’s confident in the district’s direction.

“One thing I’ve uncovered about Dayton is that there are a lot of layers of things that need to be fixed, tweaked, changed completely,” she said. “We need a solid curriculum and we’re working on that. We also need better teacher training, better principal training, making sure that we’re holding everyone accountable, including ourselves.”

About the Author