The Broward School Board gave superintendent Robert Runcie a five-year contract extension -- through 2019 -- last week.
Uh, who do they think he is -- Ryan Tannehill?
I could understand locking up the Dolphins' promising young quarterback for a long time (that was one heckuva comeback on Sunday), but I can't understand our local school district hitching their wagon for so long to Runcie.
Especially after some of the major hiccups that Runcie's endured in his first two years.
Three years, maybe.
Five years? That seems a bit much.
Of course, contract length for top officials is practically meaningless, because there are escape hatches for both sides. Runcie can leave for another job before time's up if he gives notice. And the School Board can still fire him at any time, with or without cause, and new state law limits the severance he can collect to 20 weeks.
So a contract extension is basically a public show of support, a vote of confidence that the school district is headed in the right direction.
By most accounts, it is. But there have been two major problems/issues the last two years, both directly attributable to Runcie, that would give me pause before giving him the keys to the district for so long.
First, there was last year's bus/transportation debacle. Much of that can be blamed on Runcie installing one of his old Chicago colleagues to head the department. In trying to cut costs and reinvent the wheel, the wheels fell off when school started last year, a problem that lingered for weeks.
Now, there's the issue of the forced schedule change for high school teachers. Last year, in order to avoid hefty state fines (potentially in the tens of millions) for class-size violations, Runcie unilaterally imposed an extra (seventh) unpaid teaching period on high school teachers.
Just one problem: That violated the teachers' negotiated contract.
Two arbitrators have ruled against the district, one saying those teachers need to be awarded back pay for the change (along with extra pay so long as the practice continues). That could end up costing the district tens of millions of dollars.
Runcie is trying to negotiate further with the teachers, but the bottom line is his hard-line solution might end up costing the district as much as the original problem.
Does that sound like the basis for a long-term extension?