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Federal Way school superintendent gets salary bump

The Federal Way School Board passed a measure that bumps up Superintendent Robert Neu’s yearly salary by $6,000 to a total $195,000.

The bump, approved Tuesday, comes in the form of a $500-per-month payment that kicks in Nov. 1. It is described in school board documents as a “provision added (to the superintendent’s contract) for reimbursement of reasonable expenses.”

But the money is more like a salary increase than an expense account because Neu will not have to track what he buys, and will receive $500 each month whether his expenses are below or exceed that amount.

District spokeswoman Edie Jeffers said that Neu was paying for expenses out of pocket up until the board action Tuesday. Neu will also be given a lump sum of $2,000: $500 for each month between July 1, when he started the job, and Oct 1.

Jeffers said that the pay was not included in Neu’s contract when it was approved in April because the district wanted to “wait and see” how to best handle the superintendent’s expenses.

Neu’s pay is “well within the midpoint for superintendents’ salaries in comparable districts,” Jeffers said, citing compensation given to school chiefs in Auburn, Renton, Kent, Puyallup, Bethel, Clover Park and Highline.

Chuck Lind, legal counsel for Kent schools, said that Superintendent Ed Vargas does not specifically have an expense account. Vargas’ $240,000 per year salary reflects all compensation that he’s getting (he also gets $833-per-month vehicle stipend). Vargas can seek reimbursement for expenses like traveling to a conference, Lind said.

Karen Hansen, executive director for communication at Puyallup schools, said that the district’s superintendent is not specifically given an expense account.

Jeffers said that Neu could use the extra money to pay for business meals, gas or parking fees.

According to Neu’s contract, he is covered for membership dues in leadership organizations, and for attending meetings that take place locally, statewide and nationally. Neu was also reimbursed up to $10,000 for moving expenses when he came to Federal way last spring from Waterford, Mich.

Neu also receives a tax-deferred annuity drop of $16,000 each year, compared to the $10,850 he received for an annuity he received from Waterford. An annuity is a savings instrument sold by insurance companies, usually tapped upon retirement.

Neu also gets 25 vacation days and 12 holidays each year, plus one sick day per month.

Jeffers said that the district had a similar arrangement in the past. Former Superintendent Tom Murphy’s base salary was $168,720, but he would receive $26,607 on top of that for time he put in outside of regular work hours.

The board unanimously approved the increase as part of the board’s consent agenda, which is a legislative maneuver used to approve a large number of items with one vote.

Board President Tony Moore did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the pay increase.

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