Hartford Superintendent Rescinds $38,976 In Bonuses For Top Administrators
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
October 18, 2012
HARTFORD —— Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has rescinded $38,976 in performance pay to six of her top deputies after the school board raised concerns that such payments would breach a 2011 board order to suspend central office bonuses.
The payments, described as "variable pay" bonuses for the 2011-12 year, were scheduled to be issued Oct. 12. They ranged from $6,300 for Chief Advancement Officer Kelvin Roldan to $6,720 for Chief of Staff Alexander Nardone.
In an email to the board Tuesday, hours before the board planned to discuss the bonuses with her privately, Kishimoto explained that variable pay was included in senior administrators' contracts after consultation with Mayor Pedro Segarra.
Last year, under former Chairman David MacDonald, the board decided to eliminate 2011-12 bonuses for cabinet members at a time when the school system was proposing a wage freeze for bus drivers.
Kishimoto noted that she had to restructure existing contracts, but in a way that "we can remain competitive." Under the revised pay model, top administrators receive a guaranteed salary with the possibility of an extra, variable amount for good performance.
"I have recently learned that the board is not comfortable with this new language and compensation system," Kishimoto wrote Tuesday. "Therefore, I will not be processing the variable pay ...
"And given the continued discomfort, I will work on revising the cabinet contracts to eliminate the current variable pay language completely and transition to fixed salaries. I have notified each cabinet member to make them aware of this immediate decision and pending changes to their contracts."
Board Chairman Matthew Poland, who expressed his concern about the bonuses in an email to Kishimoto on Oct. 9, said Thursday that "the board is happy about her decision to forgo the performance pay for her cabinet."
"We are open to a discussion on how senior leaders are paid," Poland said. "We want to have a better understanding of the competitive environment as we move forward."
The withdrawal of bonuses comes soon after Kishimoto untangled herself from a separate controversy involving her own bonus request.
Kishimoto's lawyers demanded in an Oct. 9 letter to the city's corporation counsel that the board pay her $15,450 in bonus money. The board refused, citing its recent annual review that gave her a poor 56 percent rating.
Kishimoto, who is contractually eligible for up to $30,000 annually in performance pay, announced Saturday that she was retracting that request.
Performance pay is built into many of the school system's employee contracts, including agreements with the Hartford Federation of Teachers and the Hartford Principals and Supervisors' Association.
On Sept. 28, about 960 employees districtwide received $2.02 million in group performance bonuses for 2011-12 because their schools showed significant growth under Hartford's Overall School Index (OSI), a metric system.
Nine magnet schools were awarded bonuses based on 2012 standardized test scores, such as Capital Preparatory, Annie Fisher STEM, Mary Hooker Environmental Sciences, Kinsella Magnet School of the Performing Arts and Noah Webster Microsociety.
Among the dozen city neighborhood schools that received group bonuses were Betances Early Reading Lab, Breakthrough II, Kennelly, M.L. King, Rawson, Simpson-Waverly, West Middle, Wish Elementary and Opportunity High School.
Principals at Betances and Opportunity High, an alternative school, each received $10,000 for leading schools with the highest gains. Other principals were in the $2,500 to $5,000 range, while most teachers were awarded $2,500.
Bonus recipients also included guidance counselors, paraprofessionals, school nurses, social workers, secretaries, security staffers, custodians and cafeteria workers.
Custodians and cook managers each received $1,250, for example.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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