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Newark School Chief Could Earn Hefty Bonus Based on Performance Review

If Cami Anderson meets seven criteria, she qualifies for a 20 percent boost above her 2013-2014 salary

cami anderson
Newark schools Superintendent Cami Anderson

Newark schools Superintendent Cami Anderson was grilled by legislators last week; now she’s under review by the Christie administration to see if she met her performance goals in the past school year.

This review, however, may come with some cash.

Under Anderson’s previous contract, which expired in June, she can get an additional 20 percent of last year’s base salary ($247,500) if she meets seven quantitative and qualitative goals.

Following a request by NJ Spotlight, the administration recently released the goals. But a spokesman for the state Department of Education stressed that they were set in January, midway through the 2013 - 2014 school year.

Planning/qualitative goals

  • “Family Snapshots” for all schools that provide data on performance, as well as families reporting high satisfaction with fairness/utility of the measures.

  • Policy manual with decisions informed by advisory group of charter and community leaders

  • Facilities proposal to Schools Development Authority regarding “fewer, better” schools

  • Three-year portfolio plan with focus on equity

Key performance metrics/quantitative goals:

  • Decrease the number of students who are chronically absent by 5 percent

  • Increase the High School Proficiency graduation rate by 3 percent

  • Increase the percent of 11th graders meeting language arts and/or math standards on the ACT by 3 percent

The administration’s review comes as the pressure intensifies on Anderson, as she faced a scathing critique from legislators last week in a rare appearance in Trenton.

Much of the criticism focused both on her policies and on her leadership style, which has left her at odds with many Newark community leaders.

The list of criteria for her bonus did not speak much to these issues and was noteworthy for what’s included -- and what’s not.

Only one of the quantitative criteria is based on the district’s performance on the state’s own assessments, while another uses the ACT college entrance test now taken by all 11th graders.

The qualitative goals are more about setting up plans rather than implementing them fully and satisfactorily. The portfolio plan goal appears to refer to Anderson’s “One Newark” reorganization that has been the object of much of the community’s criticism against her.

DOE spokesman Michael Yaple said the administration is now determining whether Anderson met the goals and would qualify for the bonuses.

When asked whether setting goals midway through the year was a valid method of evaluation, Yaple said that it was not just Anderson determining the criteria but also the administration under state Education Commissioner David Hespe.

“It is a supervisory decision that occurs after discussions between the Department and the superintendent,” he said in an email.

Still, he said the department hoped to expedite the process in the future with the recent appointment of a new director to oversee districts with the greatest amount state intervention, which includes Newark and the three other state-operated districts.

Tim Matheney, formerly the head of the state’s teacher evaluation office, was moved to the new position three months ago.

“Moving forward, the Chief Intervention Officer hopes to take steps to reduce the time to finalize evaluations,” Yaple said.

Anderson would not comment on the performance goals at this point; a spokeswoman said she wanted to let the full process be completed.

While the process is being finalized for 2013-14 school year, one is underway for the current school year as well. Yaple said the performance goals would be set by the end of this month.

Under the new three-year contract finished in June, Anderson is eligible for a similar 20 percent bonus. Her base salary is $251,500 this school year, with cost-of-living raises in subsequent years.

There’s a bit more at stake for the renewal process specified by the current contract. Anderson not only has her bonus on the line, but also her job: She must be renewed each year to retain her position.

Under the contract, the administration must notify Anderson of its intentions for the next school year by March 1.

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