Richmond Community Schools’ board has extended Superintendent Curtis Wright’s contract for a few more years. 

During its Feb. 14 meeting, the board approved a contract with Wright from July 1, 2023, through June 2026. 

Then, starting this July, Wright’s contract may automatically be extended yearly unless the board or Wright say they don’t want an extension. The maximum term of that contract would end June 30, 2031. 

Curtis Wright

The board and Wright can later enter into new supplements that could extend beyond 2031. Any proposed supplements would require a public hearing. 

With this new contract, Wright receives a base salary of $175,000 with guaranteed annual increases of 3%. Additional benefits include monthly allowances of $500 for an auto and $100 for his cellphone, and reasonable business and professional expenses such as preapproved conferences. 

He’ll also receive $18,000 in a tax-deferred retirement or tax-sheltered annuity plan and half of 1% of his base salary in a Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association account. The district also will contribute on his behalf to Indiana Public Retirement System. 

RCS will pay the same amount for Wright’s family insurance coverage for health, major medical, hospitalization, vision, dental and disability plus term life insurance that is offered to other district administrators. He also will receive up to $1,000 for expenses not covered by insurance for an annual physical.

The board will review Wright’s performance at least once per school year and he must be rated effective or highly effective to receive any salary raise or increment for the following year.  

In a news release, RCS noted Wright had enhanced schools’ overall performance, improved student achievement and fostered a positive and collaborative educational environment. 

“We are optimistic that the structures that we are putting into place will afford us the opportunity to experience continued growth in the areas of curriculum and instruction, systemic alignment, and social emotional supports,” Wright said in the release. 

Wright noted the district’s student performance challenges did not happen overnight.   

“Prior to my arrival, there had been years of unsatisfactory performance across the board. Thus, it may take us just as many years, if not longer, to uplift ourselves from where the corporation has been.” 

Wright became superintendent in June 2021. In March 2022, RCS’ board signed an extension through June 2027 that put his salary at $150,000 per year. Many of the previously mentioned benefits also were included, but the annual annuity contribution was $10,000.  

RCS trustees said they felt it was essential to maintain stability and leadership continuity because of education’s challenges and complexities.

Board members Pete Zaleski, Nicole Stults, Aaron Stevens, Brad Walton and Kym Pickering voted yes, while John Weber and Kristen Brunton voted no. 

Before the vote, Brunton explained that she wants Wright to stay and she believes he’s doing a great job, but she couldn’t agree with all the contract’s terms. She agreed Wright needs a raise.

Brunton said she didn’t want her “no” vote to appear to the public that she doesn’t support Wright and the work he does. When she attends various RCS events, Brunton always sees Wright, and said she has had positive interactions with him in individual, group and public settings. 

“He’s always the same — always focused on students and what’s best for RCS, and so I really appreciate that,” Brunton said. 

Weber said he had concerns about several contract terms, such as a guaranteed salary increase and large increases in the annuity and base salary. He described it as a “very rich contract.”  

Weber said the trustees have given out a lot of money this past year, and while data might support that, he didn’t feel comfortable with those increases for the superintendent. 

However, board member Nicole Stults thought differently. 

“Originally we knew we were getting Dr. Wright at a ‘good deal’ with regard to his first contracted salary,” Stults said in the release. “However, we all knew that if things continued to go well, we would eventually have to ‘pony up the dough.’ Therefore, I feel it has been overdue.”

The Richmond Education Association declined to comment on Wright’s contract.

Wright, a 1997 Richmond High School graduate, also earned undergraduate and master’s degrees from Earlham College and Indiana University, respectively, and his doctorate from Oakland City University. Before returning to RCS, he was a teacher, dean of students, assistant principal, principal, and director of facilities and security in Wayne and Pike townships in Indianapolis. 

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A version of this article appeared in the February 21 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.