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In Reversal, Hartford Superintendent Says She Will Not Seek Bonus


October 13, 2012

HARTFORD Superintendent Christina Kishimoto on Saturday stepped away from a demand to receive a $15,450 bonus just weeks after receiving a poor performance evaluation from the school board.

"In light of reporting today on communication between the board of education and my attorneys ... I will not seek a bonus for my performance over the past year," Kishimoto said in a statement released through the school system.

"Though I am deeply concerned about the way the review by the board was conducted, communicated and shared with the public, I believe that pursuit of a bonus, even if contractually obligated, is an unnecessary distraction at this point from the shared responsibility the board members and I have to continue the important work ... in Hartford."

Kishimoto then listed some of the school system's successes, such as increased performance at 29 of the district's schools and reading gains in grades 4, 5, 7 and 8.

"I just want to say that Dr. Kishimoto has made the right decision," board Chairman Matthew Poland said Saturday. "Now we can, together, move forward in the business of reform for the benefit of our children."

The Courant reported on a letter sent Tuesday from one of Kishimoto's lawyers, Jeffrey Mirman of the law firm Levy & Droney, to Hartford's corporation counsel demanding that the board give the second-year superintendent $15,450 in bonus money. Kishimoto is eligible for up to $30,000 in performance pay annually under her three-year contract.

The board has been adamant, however, that Kishimoto would not receive a bonus. Its evaluation of Kishimoto, released on Sept. 26 after media requests, gave her a 56 percent overall rating and offered heavy criticism in areas ranging from communication to management. She received 10.3 points of 20, for example, on the qualitative measures that constituted 40 percent of the review.

The remaining 60 percent was based on quantitative, student achievement targets that Kishimoto agreed to in December. She received 30.91 points of a possible 60, failing to meet many of the benchmarks.

Mirman argued that Kishimoto should receive $6,180 of $12,000 for the qualitative measures and $9,270 of $18,000 for the other goals.

"The board does not agree that the superintendent has demonstrated a level of performance required to be eligible for performance pay," L. John Van Norden, Hartford deputy corporation counsel, responded Thursday in a letter to Mirman.

John Droney, a lawyer for Kishimoto, said Friday that "she's entitled to the performance bonus, she's met the criteria in the contract and we think they're wrong. ... I know there were disagreements that we thought were being resolved, but there's no need to be mean-spirited about it."

Poland countered Friday that the board felt "incredulous" that Kishimoto requested the bonus, "given the evaluation." He also noted that Kishimoto is already well-compensated as the schools chief: Her current salary is $231,000, an increase from her 2011-12 base pay of $205,000.

In Saturday's statement, Kishimoto said she wants to work more closely with the board to improve student achievement.

"We recognize that we still have a long way to go," Kishimoto said, "in order to ensure academic, career and personal success for all Hartford students."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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