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Board Set To Vote On Harries’ Contract

by Melissa Bailey | Apr 14, 2014 12:09 pm

(11) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Schools

Melissa Bailey Photo The Board of Education is expected to vote Monday night to approve a new contract for New Haven’s freshman superintendent to continue leading the school system for another three years.

Harries (pictured above with WFSB’s Robert Goulston Thursday), who’s 41, began his tenure as superintendent last July. Because of a clause in the city charter limiting first-term superintendents’ contracts to one year, Harries quickly came up for a mid-year performance review this winter. After initial reservations from Mayor Toni Harp, the school board voted unanimously in February to reappoint Harries. That decision empowered board President Carlos Torre to hash out with Harries the details of a new contract.

At its regular meeting Monday at Hill Regional Career High School, the school board is set to vote on a contract that would keep Harries on for another three years, from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017. According to the proposed deal, Harries’ salary would remain at $193,000, with 2-percent increases on July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016. His earnings represent a drop from that of his predecessor, Reginald Mayo, who ended his 21-year superintendent’s career with a salary of $226,921.

By comparison, Bridgeport’s interim superintendent makes $190,000. Hartford’s outgoing superintendent, Christina Kishimoto, makes $238,000; the school board there is currently offering her successor a salary “in the range of $250,000, excluding benefits.”

Contract Highlights

Pension
In addition to paying his salary, the school board will put an amount of money equal to 12 percent of his salary into a tax-sheltered annuity account of the superintendent’s choice. That basically sets up a 401-K in addition to the state pension he will be provided through the Teachers’ Retirement Board.
Wheels
The contract gives Harries the right to a school system automobile. As assistant superintendent, Harries was driving his family’s Volkswagen Jetta station wagon, and sometimes riding a bicycle. Upon his promotion, he traded out his Jetta for a late-model hybrid Ford Escape SUV (pictured), the same type of car that Superintendent Mayo used to drive. The school system had already bought the car prior to Harries’ appointment; Harries took over the wheel from Lt. Dwight Ware, director of school security.

Extra Days
The contract allows Harries to accumulate 19 sick days per year, up to a maximum of 215 days. He or his beneficiaries could cash in those sick days if he dies, retires or is fired. He would also get 30 vacation days per year, which can accumulate up to 66 days.

Evaluation
By Oct. 31 of each year, Harries will be required to write a self-evaluation. The board will issue a written evaluation by Nov. 1 of each year.

Early Notification
At Harries’ request, the contract sets a Dec. 31, 2015 deadline by which the school board must vote on whether to extend his contract beyond the next three years.

Busy Start

Harries began his tenure by announcing goals that included making school funding more equitable, replacing top-down decision-making with more collaboration, and reaching “disengaged youth.”

Since taking office, Harries has sought to “empower” parents and students to help set policy. He launched a new initiative to tackle chronic absenteeism among young kids at two schools. Other projects in the works include several school turnaround plans and creating a new transitional high school for kids coming out of lockup.

The schools budget, combined with the fatal and non-fatal shootings of school-aged kids, have presented a major challenges for the new superintendent.

Harries found himself faced with what he termed a surprise $3.5 million structural deficit that had gone unaddressed. He scrambled to make unpopular last-minute cuts, including eliminating the middle-school grades at two schools just before school started. Recently he has faced pushback on a proposal to save money by moving Hyde Leadership Academy to Hillhouse High. In recent weeks, he found himself in the witness stand as a trial-lawyer-turned-city-legislator attacked the assumptions underlying the school budget.

Harries survived a January scare in which Mayor Toni Harp threatened not to rehire him until he got his budget house in order. Harp has since reversed course and supported his reappointment.

“I think he’s doing a good job,” said Harp on Thursday. “He’s very collaborative. The school system is facing some serious problems, and he’s taking them on.”

Harp said she is most impressed by Harries’ plans, still in the works, to turn around Lincoln-Bassett and Wilbur Cross High schools.

The biggest problem Harries faces, Harp said, is the budget. She noted that Harries plans to hire a chief financial officer by July. “His idea of hiring a CFO is a good one—hopefully it will bring some clarity to the budget itself.”

Harries joined New Haven schools in 2009 and became the architect of the city’s school reform effort. Harries began his education career in 2003 as a top adviser to then-New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. He taught for a year at a private school in Colorado earlier in his career.

Prior to voting on his contract, the school board reviewed Harries’ performance so far and gave him high reviews.

Click here to read the board’s evaluation; read Harries’ self-evaluation here.

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posted by: Imafive on April 14, 2014  8:31am

Dr. Reginald Mayo certainly knew talent when he brought Garth Harries to New Haven.  To think that the mayor of New Haven would even consider not renewing his contract is pure absurdity on her part-glad she got wise and recognized the incredible initiatives that our superintendent is bringing to New Haven. I spoke to student council reps who had an opportunity to attend a city-wide student council meeting, and they informed me that they actually had a conversation with Garth, that he asked them questions, sought their input,  was genuinely passionate towards their viewpoints and quite receptive towards their suggestions. They felt empowered and valued.

posted by: NewHavenPublic on April 14, 2014  8:48am

The secrecy of New Haven Public Schools is fascinating.  Why no mention of this contract in the released agenda?  http://nhps.net/sites/default/files/AGENDA_041414_1.pdf

Common Core testing will not help our students.  It will enrich the mega-corporations feeding at the trough of public education.

“School Choice” is a sham that will serve school privateers more than children and their families.  Schools are not consumer commodities.  They are the public good. 

The “Superintendent Evaluation Draft” document does not reflect the growing resistance to the destruction of New Haven Public Schools.

Show up tonight at 5:30 at Career High School and resist.  The “deal is done” but they need to know that there are many citizens who will not easily hand over their public schools.

posted by: OccupyTheClassroom on April 14, 2014  10:17am

Are those evaluation dates and renewal date consistent with othe cities’ dates? When I’m evaluated I don’t know the outcome until June. A teacher in danger of non-renewal knows in March (not December).

Do these dates set up a whole “Well it’s only the beginning of the year, how can we know how he’s doing?” scenario.

In the corporate world evaluations come at the end of the calendar year. In education evaluations come at the end of the school year.

posted by: Threefifths on April 14, 2014  10:32am

posted by: Imafive on April 14, 2014 8:31am

Dr. Reginald Mayo certainly knew talent when he brought Garth Harries to New Haven.  To think that the mayor of New Haven would even consider not renewing his contract is pure absurdity on her part-glad she got wise and recognized the incredible initiatives that our superintendent is bringing to New Haven.

You need to read this.

Garth Harries Leaves New York City, and This is a Good Thing

http://nycrubberroomreporter.blogspot.com/2009/06/garth-harries-leaves-new-york-city-and.html

Plus Garth Harries is Unqualified for the job.

How come these two Men were turn down for the job when both are them are more qualified for the superintendent job then Garth Harries?


Dred Scott

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/upload/2013/07/Dred_Scott_resume.pdf

Kriner Cash

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/upload/2013/07/Kriner_Cash_resume.pdf

Now take a look at Garth Harries Resume.

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/upload/2013/07/Garth_Harries_resume.pdf

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on April 14, 2014  1:26pm

If this were April 1st, I’d think this was an April Fool’s Joke. Two points:

1. 19 sick days and 30 vacation days!!!
So 49 paid days off. There are 52 weeks in a year so that amounts to a 4 day work week. Could be more if the vacation days are in addition to the school, state and federal holidays.

2. Why do we have to goose his retirement by paying him an additional 12% of his salary in a 401k? Isn’t the bloated state pension enough for him.

He certainly sets the bar for eating at the public trough! There was a time when people who wanted to get rich went to work on wall street, now they go to work for the NHBOE.

posted by: Honest in New Haven on April 14, 2014  3:04pm

The accumulation of sick days is what gets me.  Only city government lets people get paid for this time.  Everywhere else is “use it or lose it”.  Sick time is for when you are sick—it’s not additional vacation time.  Harries can accumulate a year’s pay in sick days—quite ridiculous.  Benefits like these are why city retirees will eventually get the notice from City Hall telling them that their retiree benefits are being slashed because it cannot afford to pay them.  Don’t be surprised when the notice comes—all of this cannot continue when municipalities are stressed for cash.  There are several Detroits looming.

posted by: Scot on April 14, 2014  3:26pm

I don’t have an opinion about his compensation but one thing in the article really jumps out at me:

“19 sick days per year, up to a maximum of 215 days. He or his beneficiaries could cash in those sick days if he dies, retires or is fired”

Also: “30 vacation days per year, which can accumulate up to 66 days”.  Wow, 66 vacation days sounds incredibly high. If he doesn’t use all his vacation days does he get to cash those out as well?  If so, he could make a fortune (much more than the advertised salary) by cashing in sick and vacation days when he leaves.

I don’t think you’d ever see this in the private sector, why is it so different? When the budget is made is it calculated based on the presumption that the employee will take all their sick days, or get paid for them?

Finally do all administrators have the same policy regarding sick and vacation days or just the superintendent?

posted by: Threefifths on April 14, 2014  4:17pm

posted by: Scot on April 14, 2014 3:26pm

I don’t think you’d ever see this in the private sector, why is it so different? When the budget is made is it calculated based on the presumption that the employee will take all their sick days, or get paid for them?

In the private sector they get these goodies.

Golden handshake


A golden handshake is a clause in an executive employment contract that provides the executive with a significant severance package in the case that the executive loses his or her job through firing, restructuring, or even scheduled retirement.[1] This can be in the form of cash, equity, and other benefits, and is often accompanied by an accelerated vesting of stock options. According to Investopedia, golden handshake is similar to, but more generous than a golden parachute because it not only provides monetary compensation and/or stock options at the termination of employment, it includes the same severance packages executives would get at retirement.

How about this.

Heinz chief could get $56m golden parachute
William Johnson could walk away with a total of $212.7m including vested stock and deferred compensation if he leaves the company.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/mar/05/heinz-chief-golden-parachute

And Remeber it was the private sector that wrecked the middle class.

posted by: Threefifths on April 14, 2014  4:25pm

posted by: Honest in New Haven on April 14, 2014 3:04pm

Don’t be surprised when the notice comes—all of this cannot continue when municipalities are stressed for cash.  There are several Detroits looming.

You need to Blame the politicians and complicit bureaucrats who raided Detroit’s pension fund for their political gain.

Looting the Pension Funds
All across America, Wall Street is grabbing money meant for public workers

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/looting-the-pension-funds-20130926

posted by: mstratton on April 14, 2014  6:10pm

The fascinating thing about this article is that neither the superintendent or the mayor acknowledged a major problem with boe finances and our budgeting until a new high 6 figure position in central bureaucracy is proposed. 400 winners in central bureaucracy always supported while 125000 residents and anyone who speaks out against it, the losers. Honesty doesn’t require a CFO. It requires character and vision.

posted by: formerNHIT on April 14, 2014  6:18pm

Considering how poorly paid many other city departments and staff are the compensation package is hard to accept, especially during tough times.  In addition taxes are simply too high in the city and this sends the wrong message.

Despite this New Haven should give Garth a chance.  The old school leadership, which he partially replaces, was not nearly as effective as it could have been or should have been.  If anything Garth deserves a chance because he has been here a while as the Assistant and seems to have a plan. 

As for hiring a CFO, they should have done that years ago.  You need a politically neutral fiscal expert that can determine where to shave costs quickly and lay out in a menu format top hard cuts for the board and Garth to decide on.

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