The IDEA Public Schools board of directors approved a compensation package offer Friday that could make Tom Torkelson, chief executive officer of the charter school network, the highest paid school administrator in Hidalgo County.
The offer would pay Torkelson a base salary of $299,000 annually with bonus, fringe benefits and deferred compensation that could add up $397,000.
Board chairman Brian Disque is authorized to conduct negotiations on the new contract.
Torkelson said he had not yet reviewed the offer but would discuss it further with Disque.
“I just love leading the organization and I think that will stay the case,” he said.
An executive committee conducted salary comparisons over the summer and made an offer Oct. 5 with a $250,000 base salary and $50,000 performance bonus. After that offer was not accepted, the executive committee voted Oct. 18 to raise its base pay offer to $299,000.
In an Oct. 10 letter, Torkelson wrote to the executive committee that his expectation for a base salary was $299,000 — halfway between an offer originally agreed to by the executive committee and one later passed by the full board.
He also wrote that the lack of a long-term contract was unhelpful in fundraising efforts and for the purposes of a bond rating.
That highest paid local school administrator is Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Superintendent Daniel King, who receives a current base salary of $261,250.
Although the offer would top that base pay, the comparison group used to develop the offer included charter and college-prep schools from Houston, New York City, Washington, D.C. and California.
The board based the vote on IDEA’s success during a recent period of rapid growth that included opening or taking over campuses in McAllen, San Antonio and Austin this year. The new contract would also secure Torkelson to a longterm agreement to lead the district through its 2017 strategic plan.
Sergio Sanchez was the only board member to vote against the compensation offer.
The board also voted Friday to award Torkelson a $50,000 bonus for meeting 2011-2012 performance goals. Those benchmarks were based on Texas Education Agency rating, college acceptance, fundraising and enrollment and expansion goals. The charter network met or exceeded all of those goals.
Andrew Kreighbaum covers education and general assignments for The Monitor. He can be reached at email@example.com and (956) 683-4472.