Ed. Chief's Job Hinges on Student Performance

Superintendent Donnie Evans

PATERSON, NJ – State-appointed Schools Superintendent Donnie Evans’ future in Paterson depends on how well city students perform in the coming year.

Evans, whose original contract expires at the end of this academic year, is getting a revised deal under which he would receive a one-year extension if Paterson students meet the performance standards being developed by the New Jersey Department of Education, officials said.

Under Evans’ current contract, the state was supposed to let him know before September 1 whether he would continue in the job beyond the end of this school year.

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A statement issued by the state education department did not say exactly what the performance standards would be, whether Evans’ $205,000 salary would change or when the decision on an extra year for Evans would be made.

Details of the deal are still being worked out, said Justin Barra, an education department spokesman. Officials expect to have the revised contract in place by October and it would run until August 15, Barra said.  At that point, a decision would be made on whether Evans would be brought back for the 2012-13 school year.

“Paterson schools have historically not been serving the children of Paterson at the consistently high levels they deserve,’’ said acting state education commissioner Christopher Cerf in a statement. “ Of the district’s 39 schools, 25 are in need of improvement (SINI) under No Child Left Behind, and the district’s self-reported graduation rate of 50.4% is unacceptably low.’’

“Over the past two years, Superintendent Evans has made great strides in developing and executing a plan for improvement,’’ Cerf continued. “These efforts, however, have not yet yielded significant progress in the area that matters most -- student achievement.  This summer, Dr. Evans worked closely with me and other resources at the Department of Education to develop an improvement plan that is accompanied by clear and specific metrics for success. ‘’

“I commend Dr. Evans for that work and believe that the plan will result in a material increase in learning outcomes.  Accordingly, I have notified him of my intent to develop a new performance-based contract for the 2011-12 school year and will consider any extension beyond that point in light of the achievement of these metrics." 

At next week's school board meeting, Evans will outline his plans for student achievement, officials said.

"Dr. Evans has indicated that he is supportive of the new agreement and looks forward to continuing to serve as superintendent,'' said Terry Corallo, the district's spokeswoman. "He remains extremely committed to the children of Paterson and the district's mission to prepare all students for college. Dr Evans has an aggressive plan for accelerating student achievement which he recently presented to the Commissioner. This plan will be shared at next week's Board meeting."

With the performance-based contract, Evans will be working under a merit system similar in spirit to what he often has suggested be implemented for teachers and principals.

During the spring, both the Board of Education and City Council had adopted resolutions urging the state to retain Evans, arguing that Paterson schools needed continuity after having a revolving door of superintendents in the last decade.

At the same time, Republican Assembly candidate William Connolly has urged that Evans be removed because Connolly said he has used the district as a political “job mill.” In particular, Connolly was critical of Evans for allowing an Eastside High teacher, Kenneth Sumter, to remain on the school district’s payroll while he worked during the day as a Mayor Jeffrey Jones’ technology director.


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