Howard County school board members voted unanimously Thursday to extend a contract with their new superintendent Michael Martirano through next school year.
Martirano was hired to fill in after Renee Foose stepped down two weeks ago. Foose had been locked in an escalating power struggle and increasingly costly lawsuit with members of the school board.
Martirano was immediately selected as the acting superintendent of the Howard County schools. Board members said they would vote at their May 18 meeting whether to name him interim superintendent for a full year; award him a full four-year contract as superintendent; or name someone else to run the school system.
Thursday's vote to name him interim superintendent means Martirano will continue in his role at least through July 2018. The extension depends on successful negotiations over a new contract and state approval.
The school board had agreed to pay Martirano a pro-rated salary equal to $270,000 a year while he was serving as acting superintendent. The board also agreed to reimburse Martirano up to $120 a day for temporary housing, give him an $800 monthly car allowance, and pay expenses for his computer and cellphone.
Meanwhile, the board agreed to pay Foose a separation package worth nearly $1.65 million, exceeding what it would have cost the board to keep Foose on for the three years left in her contract. She was earning $273,000 a year.
A former state superintendent in West Virginia, Martirano, 58, previously worked in Maryland as superintendent of St. Mary's County schools and director of elementary education for Howard County schools.
"My focus is on a successful conclusion to this school year and preparing for next school year in ways that strengthen education for all children," he said in a statement Thursday.