Barbara P. Canavan signed a contract with the Board of Education Tuesday making her the next superintendent of Harford County Public Schools. Canavan’s four-year contract begins July 1, 2014, with a first-year base salary of $192,500.
The former principal of Southampton Middle School and current interim superintendent alternately joked and held back tears as she thanked the Board and school employees gathered for the occasion.
Picking up her signing pen, Canavan quipped, “I said I’d never get married again,” prompting laughter followed by a standing ovation as she made it official. More seriously, Canavan thanked those in attendance and the people she had met in her 40 years with HCPS: “I truly am here because of you.” She said she aspired to lead with “passion, civility, grace and dignity.”
While serving as interim superintendent, Canavan never publicly expressed her interest in the permanent job until the board revealed its choice at a business meeting held Monday evening. Following a unanimous vote in favor of Canavan’s appointment, each Board member offered comments in turn, excerpted below:
Tom Fitzpatrick: “We all know a leader when we see one.”
Jim Thornton: “She is the right choice.”
Joe Hau: “I received near-unanimous input that we had the right person in this position.”
Alysson Krchnavy: “This woman gets it.”
Student Representative Benjamin Barsam: “There’s something special about Mrs. Canavan.”
Arthur Kaff: “Having an extremely impressive record as an educator, with your tremendous and highly effective advocacy for education, I think you’ll manage the school system very well.”
Bob Frisch: “I’m hopeful…that we have a long term relationship and stability that leads to success for the school system.”
Cassandra Beverley: “You are a very competent, very committed individual who enjoys the trust and the confidence of your colleagues. We heard from many, many of those colleagues as they urged us to appoint you as the superintendent…We really wanted to get it right…I strongly believe that we got it right.”
Board Vice-President Rick Grambo: “It’s a great fit.”
Board President Nancy Reynolds: “I think the students, the staff and the community are all winners…This is one tough job but she’s up to it. All you have to do is look at her past record.”
Board comments were followed by expressions of support from the Harford Business Roundtable for Education, and the unions representing principals and teachers, respectively.
Canavan rounded out the evening with thanks to Board, and an emotional “confession.”
“I am an average person, asked to do a superhuman job,” she said. “And I am very confident that I am going to succeed because of everybody in this room and everybody that couldn’t make it tonight; whether it’s a school based administrator, a parent, a custodian, or a lady in the cafeteria that works for three hours. Together, we can do this.”
Canavan’s $192,500 base salary for next school year is in the middle of the range for all Maryland public schools in 2012-2013*. Compared to her predecessor, Robert M. Tomback, Canavan’s first year base is $2,500 more than Tomback’s base five years ago.
(*Published salary comparisons may include longevity pay in some districts.)
Like Tomback, Canavan will get the same annual cost of living adjustments and longevity pay applicable to other supervisory/administrative employees in HCPS. Below is a comparison of other key provisions in their respective contracts: