February 3, 2013 at 8:40 AM
PATERSON, NJ – State education officials say they are still trying to figure out whether to give Paterson superintendent Donnie Evans a bonus for the school year that ended last June.
Under Evans’ 2011-12 contract with the New Jersey Department of Education, he was eligible for about $31,500 worth of bonuses in addition to his $210,000 salary. The contract set eight goals for Evans and stipulated he would get 1.875 percent of his salary, or about $3,930, for each one that was achieved.
“We are currently reviewing the academic outcomes in conjunction with what is outlined in the contract to make a final determination regarding his bonus,’’ said state education department spokeswoman Barbara Morgan.
The odd thing about that is that Evans’ contract also included a deadline saying the bonus payments had to be made within 120 days of the end of the contract, which expired August 30, 2012. That would put the expiration date for bonus payments at the end of December. So far, neither the state nor Paterson Public Schools has paid Evans any bonus money, according to their responses to Open Public Records Act requests made by PatersonPress.com.
When asked for an explanation of how the state could still be weighing payments under a contractual bonus clause that expired, Morgan simply restated the education department’s position that it had not yet made a final determination.
Terry Corallo, spokeswoman for Paterson Public Schools, declined to comment on Evans’ bonus situation, saying it was being handled by the education department. PatersonPress.com on Friday asked to speak to Evans about his bonus, but he was not available for an interview.
Under the system of state control of Paterson’s schools, the New Jersey education department hires the city’s superintendent and negotiates and implements his contract.
Paterson school board member Errol Kerr said the city education commissioners are in the dark regarding Evans’ bonus. “The state doesn’t give us any information on that,’’ said Kerr.
Peter Tirri, president of the Paterson Education Association, the union that represents teachers and other district employees, said the delays on Evans’ bonus put him in the same position as staff members waiting for the state to act on their contracts.
When told that Evans had not yet gotten a bonus for the 2011-12 year, Board President Christopher Irving said, “I don’t think we performed that well as a district for Dr. Evans to get a bonus on top of the two hundred-something thousand dollars he makes.’’
Indeed, a PatersonPress.com analysis of the bonus criteria in Evans’ contract found he would not qualify for extra pay on more than half the goals. It’s not clear why it has taken the state so long to do the calculations. The district issued an annual report months ago that included statistics for most of the goals months ago.
The first goal was for 34.5 percent of city elementary school students to get proficient scores in language arts on the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJ ASK) test and for 60.9 percent in math. The district’s annual report says 35.1 percent of them were proficient in language arts and 57.9 in math. The bonus criteria did not provide for any partial credit, so it would seem Evans fell short of that goal.
The second goal was for 44.3 percent of middle school students to be proficient in language arts on NJ ASK and 47.1 percent in math. The district’s annual report said 41.1 were proficient in language arts and 43.9 in math. So Evans failed to meet that goal.
The third goal was for 65.5% of Paterson students to score proficient in language arts in the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) and 34.6 in math. The district’s annual report said 66.4 percent were proficient in language arts and 46.6 percent in math. Evans seems to have reached that goal.
The next two goals - increasing the graduation rate to 64.6 percent and reducing the drop-out rate to seven percent – are more difficult to measure. That’s because the goals in the contract were based on a method of calculating those rates that’s no longer used. The annual report’s numbers for graduation rates are based on the new formula.
The sixth goal was for the district to achieve a composite SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) score of 1,223. The annual report puts the total mea score at 1,108.
The seventh goal was for the elementary school attendance rate to reach 95.1. The annual report says the rate was 94.6.
The eighth goal was for the high school attendance rate to reach 89.4. The annual report says the rate was 86.1.
Evans' contract for the current school year also provides for potential bonus payments of about $32,000. His 2012-13 salary is $215,000.