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Posted on Tue. Dec. 18, 2012 - 12:15 am EDT

FWCS tweaks evaluation process

Hikes raise ceiling from 5% to 10%

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The Fort Wayne Community Schools board made slight changes to its superintendent evaluation system and released in more detail the standards the district’s leader will be held to in order to receive an annual performance bonus and base pay increase.

During a special meeting Monday, the board approved raising the maximum percentage for the annual raise from 5 percent to 10 percent of the superintendent’s total base salary.

The board also changed language to use the word “performance” instead of “growth” to separate district data on standardized tests from the growth model that was used by the state in the school accountability system released earlier this year. The state’s model measures growth by comparing students with peers around the state.

The changes were approved in a 6-1 vote, with member Lisa Olinger dissenting.

The board and Robinson have said the district’s system is unlike any other across the state.

“We’re doing something no other district across the state is doing … evaluating our superintendent publicly,” said Mark GiaQuinta, board president.

In creating the system, the board drew inspiration from a North Carolina model but has tailored the process to fit the district’s needs.

The annual raise is a 50/50 split of effectiveness and the district’s performance on standardized tests and graduation rates. Board members rate the superintendent’s effectiveness, and the scores are averaged to end with a final score between one and four. The score earned determines how much of the bonus the superintendent can receive. Points are also assigned to how much the district improves standardized test scores at all levels.

The performance bonus can be up to 25 percent of the base salary, per the evaluation system, but is set by the board at the beginning of each year. For the current school year, the board has set a maximum performance bonus of 5 percent of the superintendent’s base salary. The bonus is calculated by the superintendent’s progress and achievement of goals set by the board and the superintendent.

The goals require quarterly progress monitoring and when the goals are set, the superintendent identifies what data will be used to show achievement. Included in this year’s goals is the establishment of system of evaluation, compensation and support for teachers and administrators that aligns with the superintendent evaluation system.

Last year, the board awarded Robinson her first raise since 2008 under the revamped system; the package included a $5,498 raise and a $15,000 bonus.

The move brought her total compensation, including $20,000 in annuity, to $215,000.

This year, Robinson declined a raise, but accepted a $9,450 bonus for total earnings of $209,450 or $5,550 less than last year.

GiaQuinta said he favored raising the maximum base salary increase to bring the district in line with other districts in the state and similar districts across the country.

Olinger voted against the changes because she opposed the percentages associated with the performance-based increases, she said. Olinger has abstained from voting or opposed every step in the superintendent evaluation process.

The board’s attorney, Tim McCaulay, said the district ranks seventh in the state among highest paid superintendents. Indianapolis Public Schools takes the top spot with a $289,000 compensation package that includes base salary, performance or incentive payments, a car allowance and vested annuity payments.

This year, FWCS surpassed IPS as the largest district in the state with more than 31,000 students. All other superintendents that rank above Robinson in compensation work in Marion County, McCaulay said.

But the district also pays Robinson less than what other similar districts in the country pay, McCaulay said. Des Moines Public Schools in Des Moines, Iowa, is currently conducting a national search for a new district leader and considering a base salary as high as $300,000.

The district is similar in size and student demographics to FWCS, but its previous superintendent earned a base salary of $206,000. Robinson’s base salary, before any performance increases or bonuses, is $180,000.

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