Montgomery County Public Schools’ interim leader will receive a one-year salary of $295,000, a monthly travel stipend and police protection if needed.

Monifa McKnight, the first woman to lead the state’s largest school district, has secured a contract largely comparable to retiring Superintendent Jack Smith’s.

Smith is leaving the district June 1, one year into his second four-year contract, to help care for his grandson, who has significant health problems.

McKnight has served as Smith’s second in command since August 2019 and was seen by some board members as the “obvious choice” to step in and guide the district through the 2021-22 academic year.

The next year is expected to be challenging as the bulk of students reacclimate to schools after an extended absence, trying to learn from home, due to COVID-19.

The school board in March chose McKnight to be the interim superintendent through June 30, 2022, contingent upon approval by the state Department of Education and an agreement about her contract.

During a school board meeting on Tuesday, the school board announced it had received approval from the state for McKnight’s approval, and had agreed on a contract with McKnight.

The contract, obtained by Bethesda Beat, shows McKnight will receive a salary of $295,000, which is $54,100 more than what she makes as deputy superintendent, and $5,000 more than Smith’s salary.

Smith, however, had been scheduled to receive a raise to $315,000 last year, but declined it as the district struggled with the fiscal impact of the pandemic.

McKnight will receive $33,500 in deferred compensation, and a $1,000 monthly travel stipend.

McKnight will also be entitled to 30 days of annual leave and 25 days of sick leave. She can cash in up to half of those days if they are not used by the end of her term.

Her contract says she and her family will be provided “reasonable protection” if there is a “credible and verifiable threat to” her or their “life or safety.”

The contract does not outline what might constitute a credible threat, nor does it set a cap on the cost or length of the protection.

Smith did not have that clause in his contract.

MCPS officials could not be reached for comment on Tuesday night.

The contract includes a clause that says McKnight is not prohibited from applying for the permanent superintendent position. If she does not apply or is not chosen, she may return to her position as deputy superintendent “or a comparable position within MCPS at the annual salary and benefits” she earns as deputy.

Along with his $290,000 salary, Smith received $48,000 in deferred compensation each year.

He was also entitled to 30 days of annual leave and 25 sick days. Smith had a company vehicle he could use for professional and personal matters, with maintenance, repairs and fuel paid for by the school district.

Smith’s contract detailed that he must live in Montgomery County; McKnight’s contract does not.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at