Thumbs up---salary, too---for superintendent



Tom Murphy, superintendent of Federal Way Public Schools, got a vote of confidence and a pay raise in his latest annual evaluation by the School Board.

Murphy received “high scores” in all areas in which the board rated him, including fiscal responsibility, accountability and communications with the board, community relations, leadership and student achievement, said board president Bob Millen.

A 4 percent raise for Murphy –– slightly higher than the 3.6 percent he received last year –– was approved by the board Oct. 14, boosting his annual salary to $147,024. He has a three-year contract through June 30, 2006.

The board particularly praised Murphy for the “strong performance” of Federal Way students in the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), for the new Todd Beamer High School opening this fall on time and within budget, and for overseeing the school district’s transition to a middle school format this year.

Last spring, Federal Way students made gains in WASL testing and outscored the state averages –– “pretty amazing, given that this district was in the middle of planning for (middle school) transition,” Millen said.

Murphy gets high marks unofficially from the Federal Way Education Association, too. Mike Comstock, president, said the local teachers union and Murphy have a “good relationship” that results in open, effective communication.

While the district administration and the union don’t always agree on matters such as contract language, “we can always talk things out,” Comstock said. “It’s nice to work in a district where you’re comfortable with the superintendent.”

Murphy’s pay raise is higher than the 2.7 percent the FWEA negotiated in its latest contract. But Murphy’s compensation is reasonable, Comstrock said, and the union considers its deal “about the best we could expect,” considering the district’s relatively low base of funding.

The School Board lauded Murphy’s handling of $6 million in budget cuts for the district this year. Despite eliminating jobs and some classroom programs, the cuts were made with the least impact possible on student learning, Millen said.

He said Murphy has earned the respect of district employees, parents and students.

Murphy has been superintendent since 2000 after being an assistant superintendent for Federal Way for 11 years.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565,

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