2022 | Schools

New MCPS superintendent to receive $320,000 annual salary

School board approves McKnight’s contract, making her first woman to lead state’s largest school district

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Monifa McKnight, whose employment as Montgomery County Public Schools’ next superintendent was finalized on Tuesday, will receive an annual salary of $320,000. That is a $25,000 increase from her salary as district’s interim leader.

McKnight, the first woman to lead the state’s largest school district, will take over the superintendency July 1 for a four-year term after the school board voted to approve her hiring for the top job. Her title and current salary of $295,000 will remain in effect until then.

The school board announced her as their pick for superintendent in February.

When she is superintendent, McKnight will also receive $48,000 in deferred compensation each year, according to her contract, obtained by Bethesda Beat on Tuesday.

McKnight also is entitled to any increase that members of the district’s administrators’ union receive in a fiscal year, the contract says. She can receive an additional raise each year after an annual performance evaluation by the school board.

Before she was named in March 2021 as interim superintendent, McKnight was the district’s deputy superintendent, the second-in-command to then-Superintendent Jack Smith. His salary at the time of his retirement in June was $295,000. He had been scheduled to receive a raise to $315,000 in 2020, but declined to receive the increase while the district struggled with the fiscal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As deputy superintendent, McKnight’s salary was $240,900, according to records obtained by Bethesda Beat at the time.

McKnight’s contract requires that she move to Montgomery County by the end of June 2023. Relocation expenses, up to $15,000, will be paid by the school board. McKnight now lives with her husband and son in Bowie.

McKnight will receive 30 days of annual leave and 25 days of sick or personal leave each year. She may carry over unused leave from year-to-year, according to the contract. She will be required to cash in half of any unused annual leave each year, and also may cash in half of any unused personal leave each year.

A typical component of recent superintendent contracts in MCPS, the school board will provide McKnight with a vehicle to use “for district purposes” during her term, which runs from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2026.

Her contract also 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.

The clause was not in Smith’s contract, but was included in McKnight’s contract as interim superintendent.

In recent interviews with Bethesda Beat, McKnight said she believed after conversations with other school leaders across the country that the security clause was necessary as a precaution because she holds a high-profile position and education issues have become more politicized across the country.

A native of South Carolina, McKnight holds a Master of Science degree in educational leadership from Bowie State University and a doctorate of education in educational leadership and policy from the University of Maryland in College Park.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com