Douglas County School District offers Erin Kane $250,000 a year to become superintendent

Douglas County’s Board of Education voted Tuesday to pay Erin Kane $250,000 to lead the divided school district, bringing it one step closer to having a new superintendent. Now, they just have to wait to see if she will accept the offer.

A split board picked Kane as Douglas County School District’s superintendent last week after a roughly month-long search to fill the job, which was left vacant after directors fired former superintendent Corey Wise in February. Kane, who led as interim superintendent of the district from 2016 to 2018, was one of two finalists for the position.

Kane will not become superintendent until she accepts the contract, which board members amended slightly during Tuesday’s meeting to have her term end a year earlier than initially proposed.

Director Elizabeth Hanson proposed having the contract term end in June 2025, saying she felt that “financially, it is in the district’s best interest to move forward with a three-year term.”

Directors approved the amended contract in a 5-1 vote. One board member, David Ray, was absent from the meeting.

The school board has been divided since it flipped to the right following last year’s election as four new conservative members gained the majority. They and the three incumbent members have clashed over the direction of the district, especially over the firing of Wise and their search for his replacement.

The board voted 4 to 3 to hire Kane, with the three minority members favoring the other finalist: Danny Winsor, the district’s executive director of schools for the Parker region.

At $250,000 a year, the salary being offered to Kane is slightly higher than the $247,500 Wise earned. It is less than the $260,000 Alex Marrero receives as superintendent of Denver Public Schools, the state’s largest school district.

If the school board decides to terminate Kane’s contract before it expires and without cause, then the district will pay her any remaining salary due but no more than $250,000, according to the proposed contract.

Wise’s contract stipulated that if fired without cause he would be paid any salary due during the remainder of his contract, but it also could not exceed his annual salary. He was fired two years before his contract expired.

Ray issued a statement in the morning, saying that he would not attend the meeting to vote on Kane’s contract.

“Speaking as one director, I believe this meeting is the culmination of a series of unethical and unacceptable practices,” Ray said. “These include the wrongful termination of the former superintendent, a deeply flawed selection process, and decisions/discussions that were made outside of the public eye.”

The three minority members — Ray, Meek and Hanson — have alleged their colleagues violated Colorado’s open meeting law leading up to Wise’s termination. The board now faces a lawsuit, filed by a Highlands Ranch resident, that alleges they held a series of one-on-one meetings to circumvent the law. Colorado statute states that if at least three school board members discuss public business, the meeting must be made public.

The board’s superintendent search also raised eyebrows for how short it took; typically school districts spend multiple months searching for a new leader. And the hiring of Kane has drawn scrutiny because of her connections to certain board members. Board president Mike Peterson asked Kane to apply for the job before the opening was posted and Christy Williams, vice president of the board, has said her children attend Kane’s schools.

Kane is the executive director of schools for American Academy, a charter school in the district.

Since being offered the job, Kane has said she hopes to bring together the divided district — and that includes its school board. “I plan to work as closely as I can with all seven board members to help them know they can trust me and I hope to help them start to build trust with each other,” she told The Post last week.

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