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Contract finalized for new Federal Way superintendent

Starting July 1, Robert Neu will start as the new superintendent for the Federal Way School District. The school board approved his contract Tuesday.

"I'm thrilled to be coming," said Neu, on the phone from his home in Michigan. "So are my wife and children."

He added: "It's no small task moving a family of eight."

Neu plans to visit Federal Way at least once or twice more before taking the reins to help with the transition.

"I am excited about meeting the community," he said. "The day that I spent there (at the community interviews), I was really struck by the passion and general sense of commitment to education that I felt that day. I am really looking forward to developing those relationships."

Neu is leaving his position as superintendent of the Waterford School District in Michigan, where he oversaw 11,000 students. He had been in that position for four years. He had previously been the district's director of secondary education for more than two years, and a principal and assistant principal for 11 years.

Neu said it was the area's diversity that drew him to Federal Way in the first place.

"I looked and saw the innovation and the programming," he said. "That's something I am really interested in, something I want to be a part of. In a larger district, there is more opportunity for innovation. While I fully understand the challenges that diversity can bring about, I also see that as a major strength...I definitely want my children growing up with that."

Neu has six kids, the oldest five are girls, all ages 4 to 13.

The school board began its search process last fall after Superintendent Tom Murphy announced his retirement.

Both superintendent finalists were from Michigan. The board unanimously chose to offer a contract to Neu at a work study meeting April 6.

Contract details

The approved contract is for three years with a starting year salary of $189,000.

Outgoing superintendent Murphy had a base yearly salary of $168,720 last year. Plus, Murphy received an additional $26,607 a year that the district said was in recognition of all the excessive time required for the job, including many evening and weekend meetings, bringing his total salary to $195,327.

Neu's salary of $189,000 is all of that bundled into one, according to the district.

In Waterford, Neu made $155,000, plus he received a $10,400 car allowance and $10,850 for tax-sheltered annuity, according to a Sept. 26, 2009, article in the Oakland Press.

According to the district, they did a compensation survey of comparable districts like Renton, Highline, Kent, Auburn, Puyallup, Bethel and Clover Park. Neu's salary was determined after the district found the midpoint of those salaries. Kent's superintendent makes $250,000 a year at the high end of those districts, and Clover Park's superintendent's yearly salary is $169,000 at the low end of those schools.

Seattle's school superintendent makes $264,000 a year.

Federal Way is the state's eighth largest school district. Neu's salary would put him as the 26th highest paid superintendent, according to the numbers provided by OSPI.

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