WAKEFIELD – The School Committee approved a new contract and raise for Superintendent Doug Lyons at their meeting Tuesday, September 20. He was given a new four-year contract that will start next July 1 and a raise from $188,752 to $202,500, effective this fiscal year, July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023. “I appreciate it,” he told the members.

Member Amy Leeman voted for the contract extension, but not the raise. Citing the lack of a review process on Lyons’ performance, due in part to the pandemic, she said, “While I enjoy working with Doug, there was no review or data to justify the increase. I would have done in for Fiscal 2024.”

She also said Town Meeting voted for $188,752 in a specific line item, not $202,500.

She also asked some provision be inserted in the motion on the raise for future reviews, but did not have specific language ready, so withdrew the request.

“No one has been more publicly evaluated,” Chair Tom Markham reacted, in reference to the scrutiny cast on schools during the pandemic.

“Thank you so much,” Lyons said after the contract vote.

Markham told Lyons, “The type of complications in the last couple of years, showed you are a man of character and integrity. The type of leadership you provided has been very strong for the town and the students. You never let up on a desire for quality.”

Elaborating on the negotiations, he also said, “We wanted to open the school year with some security for our chief executive officer. We took our time and were thoughtful in deliberations. Some very productive conversations occurred about the future of the school system. We need to be on a path of improvement and Lyons gives us that. We have issues facing the district and are in good hands.”

Member Kevin Piskadlo called the new contract and raise “recognition of the work that’s been done. There’s a lot we still want to do. Having this leadership to bring us there is important.”

Earlier in the meeting, the members met the new student representatives to the School Committee, Isabella Berchem, Molly Berinato, Lauren Mangarelli and Vanessa Westlake.

Asked how the opening of school has been compared to the last two year, Berinato answered, “It feels different in the best possible way.”

“It felt good to have a normal school day,” Mangarelli added.

“Thank you for taking this leadership role,” Piskadlo told them. “Your perspective is valuable I encourage you to share your thoughts when you feel comfortable doing so.”

“Do not hesitate to bring forth ideas,” Markham added. “The student perspective is incredibly important. Bring some thoughts forward so students have the opportunity to be heard,” making further reference to the survey that will be given to students on proposals for a new High School logo.

Although it is a non-binding vote, he said the results will be “an important part of this in deciding what image the students will wear. We wanted to give the students an opportunity to weigh in.”

Lyons said he wanted some feedback on school food in light of the fact a new food services director has been hired.