Superintendent's Raise & Contract Extension
by Alex Saitta
July 1, 2007
There are three points I want to make about the contract issue.
The district officeís press release said nothing about the size of the increase in the Superintendent's compensation. Here is the quote: "... increasing her annual salary to $120,000 effective July 1, 2007; and increasing her annuity contribution to 10 percent of her 2007-2008 salary."
Referring to the new compensation level, but not mentioning the size of the increase is less than 1/2 the story. That is one of a couple of reasons why I layed out the old and new terms of the contract to the board and the press, just before we voted on it last week.
First, the people have a right to know what they are paying their public leaders, AND the size of their raises. I suspected the press release would be lacking and I was correct in my assumption. As an employee of the people, I was going to make sure you got the whole story and I praise the press for reporting the new level of compensation and the size of the increase.
Second, the terms of the new contract were discussed in about a 45 minute meeting, and it seemed to me some of the board members (including me) were unsure exactly what the new terms were, so a review was needed before the vote.
The annual salary was increased from $109,000 to $120,000.
The taxpayers will now make an annual contribution of $12,000 into the Superintendentís annuity or 401k. That is up from $5,000 a year.
The money given to the Superintendent as an auto allowance will remain $6,000.
In sum, the compensation rose from $120,000 to $138,000.
Evaluation Process Needs Improvement:
In my opinion, the evaluation process needs improvement. The questionnaire asks general questions like, rate how the Superintendent is doing on instruction, personnel management, finances, etc. Performance is not measured against any quantitative variables like test scores or drop-out rates. Basically, if the Superintendent is doing what the board member XYZ wants, that board members gives a high rating. The problem is, the board should be evaluating the Superintendentís on SUCCESS. What board members XYZ wants may not equal success in the end.
I didnít see how the individual board members evaluated the Superintendent, but Iíd bet most of the members who voted for the $336 million Greenville Plan, gave her high ratings on facilities, because they wanted to get all the money at one time. Well getting the money is not success. It is a means to success or to failure. If the Superintendent develops a good plan and builds $336 million worth of schools, that will be a success. If we end up with only $200 million worth of schools, and spend all $336 million, that will be a failure. If we spend all $336 million, and two years latter, there are portables in some schools and empty classrooms in others, that will be a failure. Either way, we can't start to judge success or failure on facilities for some time.
Same goes for the big investment in computers. I bet some board members gave the Superintendent high grades for the $14 million computers plan. That in itself is not success. Anyone can raise money and buy computers. The initative may turn out to be a success or a failure. We donít know at this point. If test scores donít rise or the drop-out rate doesnít fall much, investing all this in computers wasn't the best way to spend that money. If test scores rise and the drop out rate falls, it will be a success. That canít be judged until some academic performance data comes in and that will take at least a year.
When the board formulated the Superintendentís contract last year, the reason she was given a 2 year contract was most of the members felt that it would be difficult to evaluate a new Superintendent in a shorter period of time. That thinking changed, and the board decided to give the new Superintendent a raise and extend the contract after one year.
In my opinion, is too early to tell if the Superintendentís initatives will be successful or not. Another for example, I am optimistic about the Superintendent's new Curriculum Mapping plan, but implementing the plan and me being optimistic about it, is not the same as success or raising student test scores. We should evaluate the Superintendent on the latter, and it is too early to do that.
I think this first evaluation should have gone something like, "You have received a good review. You have made a lot of initatives -- building plan, computers, Curriculum Mapping, new alternative school, and additional hirings. The school board is behind you, with most of this passing 8 to 1 or 7 to 2, but it is too early to tell if it is paying off in better test scores, less suspensions, lower drop-out rates or efficiently built buildings. By next year we'll have some data in, and the buildings will be started, and we'll evaluate the early successes of these initatives. Then we can make a decision about your pay. Right now we are still working under a 2 year deal for $120,000, and both sides need to stick to the contract."
That would have been a reasonable and fair evaluation.
I think giving the Superintendent an $18,000 raise and 2 year contract extension was premature, because we don't have proof any of the Superintendent's major initiatives are resulting in measurable success and she is still in the middle of her contract.
Instead That Money Should Have Gone To The Classroom.
I think the board should have stuck to the terms of that contract, and instead, spent that extra $18,000 in the classroom -- on education instruction or classroom supplies, where it is most needed and will directly benefit the children this year.
I can understand what the typical parent is thinking. The schools ask for things like Kleenex for the classroom and red pens for the teacher to grade tests, because there is never enough money. No wonder, the school district spends too much money on things outside the classroom like a big raise for the Superintendent, or trips to see high schools around the country, or borrowing the payments for the building plan, rather than paying them cash.
If I had to put my finger on it, I'd say this is what people in this county are most tired of.