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Cleveland Board of Education approves contract with new CEO

Outgoing CMSD CEO Eric Gordon (left) hands a baton to the district's new CEO Warren Morgan at an event announcing his appointment on Tuesday, May 9, 2023.
Ryan Loew
Ideastream Public Media
Outgoing CMSD CEO Eric Gordon (left) hands a baton to the district's new CEO Warren Morgan at an event announcing his appointment on Tuesday, May 9, 2023.

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District Board of Education voted Tuesday to approve a four-year contract with incoming CEO Warren Morgan. His first day will be July 24.

The Board had already announced its selection of Morgan earlier this month, but the vote Tuesday solidified that choice. Morgan was most recently the chief academic officer for Indianapolis Public Schools.

Vice Board Chair Robert Heard and other board members said they were looking forward to Morgan’s arrival.

“The length of this contract speaks to the board having its eye on the long-term success of our students, (and) to the confidence the board has in Dr. Morgan,” Heard said.

The Board also approved a transition agreement with Morgan, to pay him on a contractual basis to work with the school district for up to 15 days between now and July 24 (when outgoing CEO Eric Gordon leaves the position) to ensure a smooth transition of power between Morgan and Gordon.

Morgan will be paid almost $1,100 per day for that work (in addition to travel and lodging expenses), according to a copy of the new contracts. His starting base salary will be $285,000, with an annual increase each June as determined by the board, based on performance.

Some other quick details from the contract are below:

  • Starting six months into his contract, Morgan will be required to live within the boundaries of the school district. He’ll also get a transitional housing allowance of $2,000 per-month for up to three months upon coming to Cleveland.
  • He will receive a monthly $750 car allowance, in lieu of mileage reimbursement when traveling within the county.
  • If the board wishes to terminate his contract, it will require the concurrence of Cleveland’s mayor, just as the mayor’s concurrence was required with the selection of the CEO.
  • The district also agrees to pay 6% of Morgan's salary per year to a tax-sheltered annuity, starting in 2024.

According to a copy of Gordon’s last four-year contract with the district, his base salary starting in 2019 was about $257,000; he was also eligible for an undetermined percentage-point raise based on performance each year. Spokesperson Roseann Canfora said his base salary for this school year was $276,000.
Gordon’s contract also includes a provision that granted him a bonus based on performance metrics – things like improving the school district’s graduation rates and reading scores – of up to $26,000 per-year. Morgan’s contract does not immediately contain such a provision.

However, Morgan’s contract does state the board and CEO will meet prior to September 15, 2023 to mutually agree upon a set of goals for district improvement – similar to the bonus provision in Gordon’s contract.

Notably, neither Morgan nor Gordon’s base salaries are much higher than the base salary of former CEO Eugene Sanders, whose base salary was $260,000 starting in 2007. Gordon initially took a pay cut from his predecessor when he received his 2011-2012 contract, earning a $230,000 base salary (at a time when the district was struggling financially and academically).

Updated: May 24, 2023 at 11:05 AM EDT
This story has been updated.
Conor Morris is the education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.