Saranac Lake school board OKs new superintendent’s contract

SARANAC LAKE – The school board here has approved a three-year contract with its next superintendent of schools.

Diane Fox will be paid a base salary of $115,000 from July 1 of this year through June 30, 2014. She’ll be eligible for salary increases in the remaining two years of the contract, which runs through June 30, 2016, based on annual performance evaluations.

This is the first superintendent job for Fox, who is currently principal of Beekmantown High School. She replaces Gerald Goldman, who will step down in July after five years as superintendent. Goldman’s current salary is $130,200. His starting salary was $120,000 when he was hired by the district in early 2008. This school year he is making $130,200.

Fox’s contract says the district will provide her health insurance coverage through it’s “PPO-J” plan, a less expensive health plan that the district has been trying to switch its employees to over the past year. Fox will be required to pay 25 percent of the cost of her premiums, the same Goldman is paying now. If she doesn’t accept the district’s health coverage, she can collect a $2,500 payment at the end of each school year.

Much of the contract spells out Fox’s duties and responsibilities, the specifics of how her performance evaluations will be carried out and the circumstances under which the agreement can be terminated. It also lists the amount of leave time she will have each year, including 25 vacation days, 20 days of sick leave and five days each for family sick leave and personal leave. The board also will pay for Fox to use her car for school-related business outside the district based on the standard Internal Revenue Service mileage rate.

The agreement includes a residency clause. It says Fox has to establish residence in the geographical boundaries of the district no later than Dec. 31, 2013. It defines her residence as “her actual principle domicile at which she maintains her usual, personal and household effects.”

School board members have said requiring their new superintendent to live in the district was something they were “adamant” about. Part of the reason for that surrounds what happened with Fox’s current boss in Beekmantown, Scott Amo, when he was the Saranac Lake Central School District’s superintendent from 2004 to 2007. He never moved to the district and lived in Plattsburgh during his tenure here, which upset some people.

Fox told the Enterprise last month that she believes it’s important for a superintendent to live in the school district where he or she works. She said she plans to move here, possibly renting in the village at first and then later moving toward the Bloomingdale area to cut down on her husband’s commute. Her husband, Greg Claus, is a teacher at Saranac High School.

The school board approved the contract with Fox at its April 16 meeting. A copy of it was provided to the Enterprise Friday by Dan Bower, the district’s assistant superintendent for business.

Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or