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Anderson Closes the Deal for $247,500 -- Plus Bonuses

John Mooney | April 24, 2012

Some bonus targets tied to increasing proficiency scores district-wide.

Almost one year into the job, Newark superintendent Cami Anderson and the Christie administration have inked a contract that will pay her $247,500 for this and each of the next two years, plus bonuses of up to nearly $50,000 if she meets a mix of performance targets.

The total amount places her among the highest-paid school administrators in the state, albeit slightly below what her predecessor, Clifford Janey, received to lead the state-run district.

A significant portion of Anderson’s contract, obtained by NJ Spotlight yesterday under an Open Public Records Act request, is tied to merit bonuses contingent on specific student achievement measures and broader judgments about her progress.

Separately, the contract includes several other provisions, such as a $30,000 payment for moving expenses and other transition costs related to her move from New York City to Newark.

Signed by Anderson on March 26 and acting education commissioner Chris Cerf on April 4, the deal took close to a year to close on paper, although state officials said much of it had been settled for months.

Cerf, who brought Anderson in from her previous post as a regional superintendent in New York City schools, yesterday said the deal is a strong one for the state and the district.

"The children of Newark are extremely fortunate to have Cami as superintendent,” Cerf said in an email.

“She is off to a brilliant start, and her bold and ambitious plans for the future hold great promise for dramatic increases in student learning,” he said. “The terms of her contract are commensurate with her many talents.”

Anderson’s office said she would not comment on the pact.

Both the base amount and the bonuses are not unusual for large urban districts, some topping even $500,000. And some not so inner-city districts, too. The Syosset, NY, superintendent, reportedly has a base salary of $405,000, with another $100,000 in bonuses and fringe benefits.

Still, Anderson’s pay well exceeds the controversial caps that Gov. Chris Christie placed on a vast majority of school districts, ones that many superintendents have complained of as driving them from their jobs.

Those caps top out at $175,000, Christie’s own pay, but they excluded New Jersey’s 16 largest districts, including Newark, and the two other state-operated districts, Paterson and Jersey City.

Cerf also recently signed a one-year contract with Paterson’s superintendent, Donnie Evans, for $210,000 a year, plus similar merit bonuses of up to 15 percent. Jersey City is in the middle of a national search for a new superintendent whose contract Cerf will need to approve as well.

Anderson’s 19-page contract is mostly boilerplate, including her responsibilities, terms of services, and conditions for termination. It includes 22 vacation days, 15 sick days, and three personal days each year. Under the non-renewal clause, she must be given nine months notice if she is not to be renewed in 2014.

The contract does have a few unique provisions, however, including what would happen if the district was returned to full local control before her contract expires. Under such circumstances, the contract would still stand, although her responsibilities could change under the transition plan agreed to between the state and district.

But the most interesting parts of the contract come in the merit provisions included in the contract’s appendix, ones that would pay her up to 20 percent more if all of the goals are met.

They are divided into two sections, each worth a total of 10 percent in bonuses. The quantitative measures, each worth a 3.3 percent bonus or roughly $8,000, are the following:

  • The percent of Newark high school students scoring proficient or better on either the math or language sections of the High School Proficiency Assessment rises 3 percent.

  • The percent of all students grades 3-8 who are not proficient in language arts drops 2 percent and/or the average language arts score increases.

  • The percent of all students grades 3-8 who are not proficient in math drops 2 percent and/or the average math score increases.

The quantitative goals have an intriguing caveat, since they would exclude the scores from schools that have fallen under investigation for possible testing irregularities before Anderson took the job last year.

The qualitative goals, each worth 2.5 percent in extra pay or roughly $6,000, speak more to Anderson making broad progress on four major initiatives. The initiatives and required progress are:

  • Teacher evaluation pilot, including survey of participating schools and recommendations for improvement.

  • Teacher quality initiative, including summary of training and coaching and baseline teacher survey.

  • Progress reports for every school, including training on how to interpret them.

  • Adoption of “college-ready” standards, including implementation plan for Common Core State Standards and a new college-ready assessment.

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