Superintendent of Schools JeanAnn Paddyfote was accorded superlatives last week for New Milford school district leadership and educational advocacy.

The Board of Education awarded Dr. Paddyfote a new three-year contract June 14 that increases her salary to $188,070, a 2 percent hike.

The board voted unanimously -- with members Alexandra Thomas and Nancy Tarascio-Latour absent -- to extend the contract in recognition of the 32-year district veteran's caliber and her recognition of the town's economic climate, saidboard chairwoman Wendy Faulenbach.

Dr. Paddyfote has been the district's educational leader since 2002, serving about three years on an interim basis before her official appointment.

Though her salary was increased this year, Dr. Paddyfote will, for the third year in a row, accept a reduction from that base salary by taking four unpaid furlough days, reducing her actual salary payments by $3,270.

This comes after accepting 14 unpaid furlough days in the current year, and eight furlough days the previous year when she also deferred her salary increase, Ms. Faulenbach said.

Dr. Paddyfote also negotiated a contract that would require her to relinquish about 463 accrued sick days upon termination of her contract.

In some districts, superintendents who resign or retire are paid their accrued sick time and, in Dr. Paddyfote's case, that would mean a payment of some $380,000.

As part of her contract, the veteran superintendent will be credited with 45 days toward her retirement bank at the beginning of the contract and an additional five days annually.

As of July 1, she is entitled to 29 paid vacation days, with 30 days the following year and 31 in the final year of the contract.

If the contract is terminated, unused vacation days would be paid on a per diem basis.

Dr. Paddyfote is also entitled to four paid personal days per year, as well as three days of bereavement leave.

She will contribute 15 percent of her salary toward medical insurance coverage.

Board member Lynette Rigdon said she and her colleagues agreed the time has come to reward the superintendent for her leadership.

"The superintendent has done her share of concessions for the last couple years," Ms. Rigdon said, "and with her ability to steer the district in the right direction all this time, I think it's time to pat her on the back and give her a raise."

"Dr. Paddyfote's new contract reflects the esteem in which the board holds her," Ms. Faulenbach said. "Dr. Paddyfote is a well-respected educator and a superb leader, whose ability, integrity, work ethic, and commitment to the New Milford public schools have provided an incalculable benefit to our community.''

In other contract business on June 14, the school board:

Approved a 2 percent salary increase for the district's 11 non-bargaining-unit employees. Those salaries now range from $46,043 for an accounting data specialist in the central office to $148,597 for the assistant superintendent.

Extended the contract with the New Milford Secretaries' Association that freezes wages and step increases for one year.

Extended the contract with the Teamsters Local 677 that represents custodians and maintenance employees for one year, with no general wage increase.