The Seattle School Board wants to ensure the district offers competitive pay to attract superintendents, but those leaders must still prove their worth.

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THE Seattle School Board wants to make sure Seattle’s superintendent is the highest paid in the state and that the pay is comparable to cities like San Francisco and Boston as a way to attract top talent to the job.

But the school board should be more focused on measuring outcomes and rewarding exceptional performance in those areas. Being the biggest school district in the state doesn’t mean it’s the best.

Seattle Superintendent Larry Nyland is barely in his second year on the job and has already negotiated a 5 percent raise and one-year contract extension through June 2018.

School Board directors, who approved the raise Wednesday, insisted that the raise is a necessary “vote of confidence” to retain Nyland and provide stability in a district that has suffered from significant turnover of superintendents and other top roles in the past decade.

For his part, Nyland said he will donate the raise back to the district’s general fund. Even so, he must provide the leadership needed to improve student outcomes. High-school-graduation rates rose last year, but too many students still graduate unprepared for college or a career. Schools continue to provide uneven quality of instruction.

Nyland joined the district as interim superintendent in August 2014 and became permanent in February. His base pay of $276,075 will go up to $289,879 in addition to benefits, such as a $8,400-per-year car stipend.

In an interview, outgoing School Board directors Sherry Carr and Sharon Peaslee said that in his short tenure, Nyland has worked on revamping the special-education program, which is expected to regain lost federal funding and is no longer under federal watch. He also charted a plan to improve the academic performance for groups of students that don’t do as well as other groups on standardized tests and other measures.

These are promising efforts, but Nyland also pushed the district to dismantle its relationship with the Alliance for Education, a nonprofit that raises money for the district. Nyland and the School Board should mend broken ties and find a productive way to work together.

Carr and Peaslee emphasized the importance of maintaining a stable leader at the helm of a large, complex urban district. Being largest in the state doesn’t mean Seattle is the best nor the best if could be. The district must aim higher.

Nyland should use the next few years to prove the district is making a worthy investment in him.