PATERSON, NJ – State-appointed schools superintendent Donnie Evans could make about $32,000 in bonuses this year under his new employment contract with the New Jersey Department of Education.
That represents roughly the same amount of bonus money Evans was eligible to collect for this past school year, but the new contract changes the formula that will be used to determine whether he gets the extra money.
In the four instances in which the bonus criteria focus on the same issues – test scores and graduation rates, the new contract demands slightly lower percentages of improvement in order for Evans to get the extra pay. For example, last year the percentage of high school students reaching proficiency in had to increase by six percentage points in languages arts and by 3.7 percentage points in math for Evans to get a bonus. This year, the percentage needs to increase by 3.33 percentage points.
Also, high school graduation rates last year had to increase by 5.9 percentage points for Evans to get a bonus, while this year the goal is 3.33 percent.
To some degree, local education officials said, the reason for the change stems from the higher degree of difficulty involved in attaining percentage increases as the numbers go up. For example, if just 33 percent of 1,000 students passed in the previous year, then achieving a 10-percentage point increase in the rate means that an additional 33 students would have to pass to push the rate to 36.3 percent. But if 45 percent passed the previous year, then that means an additional 45 students would have to pass to reach the 10 percentage point improvement goal.
The state education department has not yet disclosed how much in bonus money – if anything – Evans will get for last year. Evans was supposed to submit a report to the state by mid-July on how well he met the criteria for this year.
Last year’s contract outlined eight benchmarks and for each one the district achieved Evans would get a bonus of 1.875 percent of his salary, the contract said. If he met all eight, he stood to collect about $31,500.
Four of this year’s criteria cover similar issues as did last year’s bonus clauses – elementary and middle school students’ scores on the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge in math and language arts, high school students’ scores on the High School Proficiency Test in math and language arts and the district’s graduation rate. But in most cases, the standards for improvement are somewhat lower than the goals set last year.
Four other bonus benchmarks from last year have been dropped. They covered the district’s drop-out rate, its scores on the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and attendance rates for elementary school and high school.
The one new criteria focuses on the implementation of the “System-Wide Framework for Transformation.
Other than the revised bonus formula, a $4,875 pay increase that brings his salary to $215,000 and the additional years, the terms of Evans’ new contract are virtually the same as the one that covered the 2011-2012 school year.
For example, Evans still gets 20 vacation, 15 sick and three personal days. The state again will provide him with a “four-door full-size non-luxury automobile with blue-tooth and GPS for work-related travel, as well as commuting to and from work.’’
The contract keeps in place clauses that say both Evans and the state must give 90 days’ notice if either chooses to terminate the contract.
When asked for Evans’ comments on the new contract, district spokeswoman Terry Corallo provided the following statement:
“The Superintendent is appreciative of the Commissioner’s support and he is looking forward to the next three years. As Dr. Evans has said, the past three years have helped to build a foundation – especially at our high schools – but there is much more work to be done to ensure that the children of Paterson have a bright and successful future. The district’s transformation plan for the elementary schools – specifically targeting our priority and focus schools – will begin this fall. This plan includes the opening of a Newcomers program (at School 11) for Spanish-speaking children (grades 4-8) in order to help them successfully transition into the district’s classrooms. We are also launching a Gifted & Talented Academy at School 28, also for grades 4-8.”
Asserting that Paterson schools needed continuity in leadership, the Board of Education twice in the past two years gave Evans a vote of confidence by urging the state to reappoint him. The City Council last year also passed a resolution backing him.
Statistics issued by the district showed improvement in Paterson students’ scores on standardized tests and in graduation rates. But the numbers of students below proficiency levels remain far lower than where officials say they want to be.
School board members generally have backed the 10 proposals in Evans’ Transformation Plan, such as plans to create magnet schools, to discontinue social promotion, to implement new evaluation programs for teachers and administrators, and to downsize central administration.
But some of the proposals, such as reconfiguring existing district schools, have come under fire from board members as well as the community at large. Evans backed away from a controversial plan under which the district this year would have begun leasing space at School 28 to the charter school operated by New Jersey Community Development Corporation.
But the goal of “partnering with charters” remains one of 10-points in the transformation plan.
Under the new contract, Evans will get a 3.33 percent bonus, or about $7,100, for each of these three criteria:
1. The percentage of elementary students (grades 3-5) in the District who score proficient or higher on the NJ ASK/APA Language Arts Literacy will increase by 3.33 percentage points and Mathematics will increase by 3.33 percentage points.
2. The percentage of middle school students (grades 6-8) who score proficient or higher on the NJ ASK/APA Language Arts Literacy will increase by 3.33 percentage points and Mathematics will increase by 3.33 percentage points.
3. The percentage of high school students (grades 11) taking the HSPA for the first-time who score proficient or higher on the HSPA Language Arts Literacy will increase by 3.33 percentage points and Mathematics will increase by 3.33 percentage points.
Under last year’s contract, the criteria called for Evans to achieve 10-percent improvement in the percentiles on the various tests. That meant that middle school students’ proficiency rates in NJ Ask language arts had to rise from 40.3 percent to 44.3 percent and in math the percentages had to rise from 42.8 percent to 47.1 percent.
The new contract stipulates 2.5 percent bonuses, or $5,275, if he meets these criteria:
1. The High School graduation rate will be at least 3.33 percentage points higher than the 2011-12 graduation rate.
2. The school district will implement 8 out of the 10 activities listed in the System-Wide Framework for Transformation.
Paterson Public Schools provided a copy of Evans’ contract to PatersonPress.com under a request filed under the New Jersey Open Public Records Act.