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New Pact Links Pay To Performance

by Melissa Bailey | Dec 24, 2013 8:52 am

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

Posted to: Labor, Schools

Only those principals and school administrators rated “effective” or higher will get raises next year, according to terms of a new labor contract that continues a march toward tying pay to performance.

The new, three-year contract, announced Monday affects 115 principals, assistant principals, and central office administrators who lead early childhood, adult education and K-12 schools for the 21,000-student school district.

The contract runs from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017, according to joint press release issued Monday by the school board and the union, the New Haven School Administrators Association. It follows a second landmark teachers contract ratified in November, which stayed the course of Mayor John DeStefano’s school change effort as he prepares to leave office. Both contracts aim to make use of a $53 million federal grant to pay for pay raises.

Melissa Bailey File Photo “It’s fair. It lets New Haven be competitive with other towns and cities in the state,” said Richard Therrien (pictured), the schools science supervisor and administrators’ lead negotiator. It also contains a side letter and statement of belief that “reaffirms our commitment to school reform,” he said.

Administrators didn’t vote on their contract. That’s because the union didn’t come to an agreement quickly enough before deadlines set by state law automatically triggered the binding arbitration process. The contract will technically be handed down by a panel of arbitrators, but it represents an agreement between the two sides, according to the press release.

“We think this is a fair contract that respects the city’s economic climate, values the hard work of our administrators and invests in our children by strengthening administrator development and support,” the joint release reads. “The agreement reflects the collaborative work between the New Haven Board of Education and administrators to deepen and extend the transformational work happening in our schools.”

Mirroring changes in the teachers’ contract, the administrators’ agreement creates new career paths with extra pay for administrators who mentor their peers or work in “hard-to-serve” schools.

Here are some highlights, according to a summary issued Monday by the school board. (Click here to read the summary.)


The contract links pay to job performance, as measured by new evaluations that rate administrators into five categories: needs improvement, developing, effective, strong and exemplary. The three-year-old principal evaluation system is based on the teachers’ evaluation system. The grades are based on “professional values” and on on goals administrators set for student performance, measured in part by test scores.

The new contract calls for changing the conventional method by which administrators salaries increase each year. Typically, they have automatically moved up one “step” on a three-runged ladder per year, based on how many years they have worked.

Before, administrators could hypothetically be held back from step advancement if they were rated “unsatisfactory,” but that rarely if ever happened, according to Therrien. (The old job evaluations simply rated everyone “unsatisfactory” or “satisfactory.”)

Principals typically make between $110,000 and $140,000, depending on their years of experience and whether they have any advanced degrees.

Under the new contract, that advancement will no longer be automatic. Only those who are rated “effective” or higher will move up a step.

Those who are rated in the bottom two categories of the grading scale will see a salary freeze in the first year. For the second and third years of the contract, all positions will see a general wage increase of 2 percent each year. That means administrators will get paid more even if they don’t move up a step.

Another important change: Administrators who reach the top of the salary ladder won’t be guaranteed to stay there. They have to keep getting “effective” or higher ratings to do so. Otherwise, they’ll get bumped down to a lower salary.

The top of the salary scale has been relabeled “Step M” for “master administrator.” Those workers will receive an average $2,700 pay raise each year.

Over three years, the increases are slated to add $917,000 to the cost of administrator salaries, which is currently $14.1 million per year.

The majority of that increase—an estimated $735,000—is set to be paid for by the $53 million, five-year Teacher Incentive Fund grant.


Administrators also gave up benefits regarding how they are compensated when they are laid off, demoted, or give advance warning of their plans to retire.

Currently, administrators earn a $10,000 bonus if they give notice by Dec. 31 of their plans to retire on June 30. That can be costly. The union agreed to reduce the bonus to $7,500, according to Superintendent Garth Harries.

The contract also enables the school board to save more money when it eliminates administrators’ jobs. Currently, there’s a huge disincentive to doing so, Harries said, because administrators have protections on their salaries. In the current contract, administrators would lose only a thousand dollars the first year, and a thousand the next, if they are bumped down to a teaching job because of layoffs. The new contract would increase the speed by which their salaries would drop: A salary would drop by one thousand the first year, three thousand the second, six thousand the third, and then would fall to the level of a teacher’s salary.

The new contract also clarifies what would happen to administrators who get demoted to teaching positions based on poor performance. That hasn’t happened in recent years, Harries said. But the contract was unclear as to how to handle that hypothetical situation. The new contract specifies that administrators who get “demoted to the classroom” would jump right to a teacher’s salary.

Health Care

The contract makes no major changes to administrators’ medical benefits, beyond adding a low-cost, high-risk health care plan option. Administrators as a whole pay 38 percent of their health care costs, the most of any city union, according to a summary of the new pact.

The contract does cut back on retiree medical benefits: Currently, administrators get free medical benefits for the first four years after they retire. In the new contract they would no longer get free benefits—they would have to buy into a plan.


The contract also allows for new leadership roles—combined with extra pay—for administrators who “serve in mentorship roles and/or assist the district in meeting the needs of hard-to-serve schools.”

Those details would be worked out by a “talent council” with representatives from the teachers union, administrators union, and top school brass.

Harries said the new contract aims to make it easier to recruit and retain top talent among administrators.

“These are some of the highest-paid employees” in the city, he noted.

“They take on significant challenge with their jobs, and significant risk,” Harries said. “There’s nothing more important in the success of school districts than the success of school administrators.”

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posted by: NewHavenPublic on December 24, 2013  9:24am

Mr. Harries said “There’s nothing more important in the success of school districts than the success of school administrators.” 

I beg to differ.  Every person who works in a school or raises a child is doing important work.

Underperforming administrators would be “demoted to the classroom”?  What a insulting commentary!  Perhaps this reflects a genuine sentiment of the non-educators currently in control of the New Haven Public Schools?

It looks like the principals have more than this highly questionable contract to fear.

We can safely assume that this contract does not apply to administrators of the taxpayer-funded schools run by Achievement First, Domus, and Renaissance?

As we saw this fall, they are held to a different standard.

School “reform” is primarily driven by corporations.  These private operators are focused on destroying our public school systems.

Do you wonder why Common Core testing is being WELCOMED to New Haven by top New Haven officials?  (These unproven tests will “demonstrate” that we have “ineffective” teachers and principals.  New Haven plans to fire their way to better schools?)

Follow the dollars.

Keep your eyes open.

posted by: Threefifths on December 24, 2013  8:45pm

posted by: NewHavenPublic on December 24, 2013 8:24am

School “reform” is primarily driven by corporations.  These private operators are focused on destroying our public school systems.

Do you wonder why Common Core testing is being WELCOMED to New Haven by top New Haven officials?  (These unproven tests will “demonstrate” that we have “ineffective” teachers and principals.  New Haven plans to fire their way to better schools?)

Follow the dollars.

Keep your eyes open.

You hit it out of the park.

Charter Schools and the Future of Public Education

By Stan KarpAdd to Cart

The Trouble with the Common Core


posted by: Dwightstreeter on December 25, 2013  9:44am

“School reform”, to quote Noam Chomsky, “is another term for destruction of the public school system” and the participation of the unions in making “government small enough to drown in a bathtub” (Grover Norquist) is stunning.

If this is such a good approach to services, then all lawmakers must similarly post “improvements” to qualify for increases in salary or benefits.

Poverty eats away at the poor and now he middle class and functionaries focus on metrics.

Yup. The inmates have taken over another asylum.

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