Saying they are very pleased with the direction the district is headed, Washington School Board members Wednesday night voted unanimously to approve a one-year contract extension for Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer.

The extension keeps a three-year contract intact for VanLeer who was named superintendent in January 2009. Her new contracts extends through the 2015-16 school year.

Scott Byrne, board president, said board members are very pleased with VanLeer’s performance, leadership skills and collaborative efforts to advance the district.

“It’s always a good sign when you extend a contract because that means you’re very happy with how things are going,” Byrne said.

The school board met in closed session prior to the public meeting Wednesday night to discuss VanLeer’s evaluation and contract.

Byrne said each of the seven board members filled out an evaluation form and then together they summarized all of the comments. Byrne will sit down with VanLeer in the next week to go over the comments.

Jennifer Triplett, board member, said the board appreciates VanLeer’s leadership style, especially her outreach efforts to keep parents and the community at large informed.

Byrne said a salary increase for VanLeer will be determined after the salary schedule for all certified staff is approved this spring. VanLeer’s current salary is $140,468.

VanLeer told The Missourian she is very pleased with the contract extension.

“It shows they have faith in me as a leader and that means a lot,” she said.

VanLeer is the first full-time female superintendent in the district’s history and believed to be only the sixth since the district became larger through consolidation.

VanLeer served as assistant principal at Washington High School from 2002 to 2006. She then served as assistant superintendent of human resources from 2006 to 2009.

Before coming to Washington, she taught health at Union Middle School for four years and coached volleyball at East Central College. Her first seven years in education were at Pacific High School as a P.E./health teacher and department chair. She also ran the volleyball program at Pacific.

She holds a doctor of education leadership from Maryville University, earned her secondary principal certificate and Master of Science degree in education from Southwest Baptist University and a bachelor’s degree in education from Southwest Missouri State University.

VanLeer resides in Union with her husband John, a teacher and coach at Pacific High School, and their two sons.