Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Superintendent Bonus Pay

Remember all of that talk about the Superintendent not getting a raise this year due to the tight budget and how inappropriate it would be for her to make more money while the District is laying off teachers?

Did you believe that? You did? You must be new.

Here it comes; item for introduction tonight: Incentive pay for the superintendent. Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson will receive performance based-incentive compensation of $5,280.00 for the 2008-09 academic year because the students in the District met four of the twenty academic goals. Man! If I met four of twenty goals at my job I'm not sure that I would be allowed to keep it, let alone get incentive pay. She is eligible for up to 10% of her pay in incentives based on twenty point system of 16 academic measures (three are double weighted, one is yet undetermined). She got four of the twenty points, one fifth, so her incentive pay is one fifth of the possible amount, 2% of her pay: $5,280.00.

The superintendent already makes more money than the governor or the mayor. Just how much do we have to pay this woman to get her best effort?

While this whole idea is a little whacked, there is a paragraph in the Board Action Report which makes no sense:
Seattle Public Schools has a rigorous five-year strategic plan, Excellence for All, to raise the academic quality of our schools and achievement for all our students. Excellence for All is focused on setting high expectations for every student, our teachers and school leaders. Performance Management is one of the key initiatives of our strategic plan. The Performance Management system aligns the District’s work at all levels with Excellence for All by using tools including the District Scorecard, School Reports and Individual Performance Evaluations for staff. The Performance Management system establishes clear expectations for the District, for each school, and for every individual.

Does this mean that the superintedent is already working under the Performance Management system before anyone else? Does that mean that she is now accountable?

Here's another wacky item: at her performance evaluation, I recall that the Superintendent got a C- in the area of curriculum and instruction. I can't confirm that because her report card isn't attached to the July 1, 2009 action that supposedly held her salary at the previous year's level. So she got a C- for curriculum and instruction, yet got incentive pay for student's academic achievement. How do those two match up?


owlhouse said...

So true, Charlie. I read the "rigorous five-year strategic plan" line and still can't stop shaking my head. Generally a plan alone does not merit a bonus. Specifically when the goals are unmet, timeline delayed, communication poor...

Is this the model for merit pay in SPS? Is this how we can ensure an "insanely great" superintendent?

"...So she got a C- for curriculum and instruction, yet got incentive pay for student's academic achievement. How do those two match up? "

She advocates a D average for graduation. So it seems consistent.

Anyone working on that flyer re: conditions for passing the levy? I can't make the meeting tonight, but have emailed the board already.

SPSMom said...


SolvayGirl1972 said...

Teachers get riffed. Rainier Beach High School doesn't have books. Numerous school buildings are in various states of disrepair. Families need to hire math tutors. Money is wasted left and right...and the super gets a bonus. Man, I am in the wrong business!

mkd said...

Charlie, thank you for bringing this to our attention. I admit that I am ignorant when it comes to the laws, levies, rules, regulations, policies and procedures that hamper this district from doing what it should be doing, that is, educating our children. A flyer at the meeting tonight is a great idea, but local press would be better. an article picked up by national news would be even better. From what I have read, the lady is very concerned about positive press. A negative piece complete with pictures of the police at local schools lately, at RBHS twice in one week, for instance, would demonstrate powerfully just how well her 5-year strategic plan is working. Don't forget that Garfield has a full-time police presence now. How about the 1993 "world culture" text book being used in history classes? No wonder teachers use their own materials. Even if she had done an excellent job, a merit bonus of any kind in today's economy makes absolutely no sense. I will try to attend the board meeting though the weather will hamper me some. I don't drive and MS does not like cold weather.

By the way, anything less than a B in my house is done over and turned in, not for credit, but to teach my sons that they are capable of work better than "C." Of course, the other lesson is that if done right the first time, there would be no need to do it again.

Melissa Westbrook said...

It's crazy town. Just one more thing to e-mail the Board about. I wonder if they have an agreement to vote in unison on this thing because a divided vote sure would look back. On the other hand, these people should vote their conscience. Why does she get performance bonuses and no one else? Maybe others do and we don't know.

I'll start another thread on this topic but good luck with those teacher negotiations in the spring.

Anonymous said...

I am at a loss for words and that is generally not my state of being.

The superintendent closes schools for a savings of $3M just to go through the motion of re-opening five schools due to, oops, over enrollment that at least one of her departments, run by one of her recruits, Brad Bernatek, already knew was happening. And her other person, our CFO, couldn’t put two and two together to figure out that we shouldn’t rif the teachers due to the over enrollment that was happening last spring.

She rif’s teachers just to bring most of them back but we still lost a lot of great teachers and our college counselors who were invaluable. Splits apart and in the process weakens the APP program, marginalizes or closes our best educational programs, alternative schools, and doesn’t lose a wink of sleep at night.
And that’s just off the top of my head.

Oh yeah, and all of those items that Charlie listed a while back within the Eggs for All program (I don’t call it “Excellence” anymore because that is not what I am seeing. I hear the word a lot but I haven’t seen anything yet).

Our superintendent already gets paid more than the governor or mayor. She’s got a $700/month car allowance and $20,000 goes into a retirement fund for her. This woman seems much more about the money than she does our kids.

And all of that is before my first cup of coffee. Wait until I wake up.

gavroche said...

I wonder how many textbooks for Rainier Beach HS $5,280.00 would buy.

Anonymous said...

Just yesterday I noticed that the cafeteria counter in Bagley elementary school has a sign on it "Do not lean or sit on counter; it is broken." I was struck by the fact that this sign has been in place since my family started at the school. In 2001.

Now, I can see why this is not a top priority. It's not all that important. But noticing that it is still broken 8 years later at the same time I hear about the bonus pay for the superintendent ... well, I just think it says something about the district.

ArchStanton said...

Another sign of the slow death-spiral that someone described in another thread.

Milk it for all it's worth and leave the decaying carcass for us to clean up.

Anonymous said...

Is she the only employee in the district to get merit pay? What would happen if she didn't get the $5K raise? Would she quit? Would that be so bad?

Really, I don't understand the point of tossing a $5K "bone" to the super in the current economic environment. And I don't understand how she can willingly accept it.

Years ago, I worked in a hospital, which of course operates 24/7/365. The manager that I had the most respect for was the guy who would give his employees off on a holiday weekend, for example, and come in and the do the work himself so that others could go be with their families. He liked to stay in touch with the actual work he supervised rather than sit in his ivory tower and enjoy the typical perks of being the boss. Everyone had the utmost respect for this guy and would go to bat for him if ever needed.

I'm reminded of that story because I suspect MGJ could get more people to buy into her grand plans if she showed a little humility and an ability to be in touch with the boots on the ground. What a message it would be if she turned down the merit pay and said "Meeting only 4 measures is not success in my book. I won't accept merit pay until the job is done." Or if she said "I can't accept merit pay when I had to RIF XXX number of teachers this past year." Something, anything, to help us see where her priorities are, other than enriching herself and taking what she feels entitled to, while others be damned.

adhoc said...

Was this "bonus" defined in MGJ's contract? Is SPS contractually required to give her the bonus? It doesn't sound like it, since it's up for vote tonight.

Either way though, you'd think MGJ would graciously decline taking the bonus pay.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lisa, your story is precisely why I am campaigning against the BTA III levy. Is your counter the biggest maintenance issue the is district? Nope. But's it's been there for 8 years. We fix virtually nothing unless it is dangerous. There is no reason to allow our buildings, new and old, to fall into disarray but that's what the leadership in this district is continuing to do.


emeraldkity said...

It certainly would be a warm gesture if she turned down the bonus, especially since others across the country are turning down raises in this climate.
In any case, I don't expect her to lose sleep over it.

Keepin'On said...

If the board votes to approve this I will be beyond disgusted.

I too would be fired from my job for only meeting 4 out of 20 goals, not receive a hefty bonus.

So many people are losing their jobs, taking pay cuts, being put on reduced hours to save others from losing their jobs...I can't even believe this is being brought up for her.

It has to be part of her contract, and they can't get out of it. Right?

Meg said...

Whether incentive pay is in her contract or not, if the board has to vote on it that means they can vote no. And should.

4/20 is dismal (Charlie, I'm assuming those were 20 goals for this year, not 20 goals over the course of 5 years), and the board should not award a raise to someone who rated a C-. It's a passing grade, but not a grade to be rewarded.

$5000 would be a happy windfall for many schools in the district for little things that would be lovely to take care of (like broken counters) but many schools normally can't attend to.

emeraldkity said...

Last year she received a raise before her yr. anniv.

Goodloe-Johnson arrived in Seattle last year from Charleston, S. C., hired after a nationwide search to replace Raj Manhas, who resigned.

Her initial contract was for three years, with an annual salary of $240,000. With the raise, which includes a 4.4 percent cost-of-living increase, she will make $264,000. Her contract also includes $20,000 per year in a retirement fund and a $700-per-month car allowance.

The board introduced and voted on the raise in one meeting, which two members of the public criticized, saying it did not allow for public input.

So she got a raise for planning to make progress ( with the help of staff) , may get $5K ( beside her generous salary) for meeting 1/10th of her goals- what is in store next year and why should we be paying out for accomplishments that haven't happened yet?

Not everyone feels comfortable accepting money that could be better used elsewhere.

Charlie Mas said...

I wonder if the counter at Bagley would get fixed if someone actually did lean on it and totally break it.

Chris said...

Charlie - only if they manage to get hurt doing it..

Central Mom said...

I really hope the Super gets whatever bonus her contract stipulates, then immediately and publicly donates it back into the SPS system. She knows how the PR game works. To do anything other than donate it back will prove she is less savvy than I think she is...and certainly than she thinks she is.

hschinske said...

Just last June, Goodloe-Johnson said she would not seek a raise this year. See, which cites

Word verification: trama. I think that's a cross between "trauma" and "drama."

Helen Schinske

TechyMom said...

$5K is about one week's salary for her. I doubt she'll even notice it. I agree she should donate it, and to do otherwise would cause way more PR damage than it can possibly be worth to her.

Stu said...

I was actually surprised when she took the raise last year so it won't surprise me when she takes this and doesn't donate it.

I honestly believe that MGJ believes everything she says and that she's getting good results. I don't feel it's just spin when she cherry-picks data . . . she thinks it's all working and that, with all the new changes, we're on course for a great school district. I think there's a real disconnect between the staff, and MGJ, and the families, with the board sort of in the middle. The families see all these things that aren't working, all these decisions that are made away from the ground troops, and can't believe what's going on. The staff and MGJ are up on the hill, overlooking the battle field, with no real understanding of what's actually going on in the trenches. The board HAS to support MGJ because to do otherwise would be to admit such an unbelievable defeat they wouldn't be able to face themselves in the morning.

I've actually decided to sit this out this round of meetings 'cause I was so nauseated the last time.


gavroche said...

I honestly believe that MGJ believes everything she says and that she's getting good results.

Stu, if Supt. Goodloe-Johnson really thinks what she's doing to our district and kids is right and best for them and is working out wonderfully, then why isn't she more forthright about all she is doing and more willing to have a real conversation with the community about the goals and consequences of her actions?

Why is she so reluctant to answer parent--and media--questions honestly, and instead recites meaningless edu-jargon and talking points ("excellence for all...blah blah accountability...blah blah...access and equity...blah")?
(And the robo-calls aren't helping.)

Why are major district decisions often made on a rushed schedule with little chance for public input (see Capacity Management (closures) Plan schedule--introduced before Thanksgiving, Supt.'s final recommendations made right after the winter holidays on Jan 6 -- some schools and programs given no hearings, etc, etc)?

Why does she and the district use inconsistent and shifting rationales and cherry-picked "data" to justify their changes and decisions?

Why does she deny that the enterprise she belongs to -- the Broad Foundation ( -- supports privatizing public schools via charters when clearly it does?

Why did she attempt to do an end-run around state law and collective bargaining by sending out a letter to the 3,000 district teachers effectively annulling their contract unilaterally?

Why do none of her rationales for school closures and splits stand up up to closer scrutiny?

Why on her watch did the district play a shell game with the central office costs, filing one budget with OSPI (state office) and a different, smaller one with the School Board (see Meg Diaz's report: “Central Administration Efficiency in Seattle Public Schools”

Why does she publicly state that class sizes don't matter and then send her own daughter to a school that is known for having smaller class sizes?

Why did she commission expensive audits of district schools and programs, only to ignore the recommendations of these audits?

Why did she lay-off teachers on Teacher Appreciation Week?

Why have some of her most vocal critics been threatened, RIF-ed, or mysteriously laid-off, and so many district people afraid to speak out against her?

Why are so many of her media interviews and profiles insubstantial puff pieces -- why doesn't she sit down with a real journalist and answer the kinds of real questions we have all been posing here?

Why did she say in her initial interview with the district that she won't change any school or program that is working well:
"If it's working and it's not broken, then I'm not going to fix it.’" -- Maria Goodloe Johnson, West Seattle Herald, April 10, 2007. -- and then one year later take aim at some of the strongest schools and programs the district had, uprooting, splitting, cohousing Nova, APP, moving T.T. Minor's successful Montessori program, and threatening many of the alternative schools?

All this doesn't add up to someone doing her best efforts in good conscience to make our schools better for all our kids.

If I am wrong and what we have seen these past two years really is a demonstration of Goodloe-Johnson's sincerely best effort and judgment for what our kids need, then I'm afraid the only evaluation of her performance we're left with is gross incompetence.

Michael said...

"Whether incentive pay is in her contract or not, if the board has to vote on it that means they can vote no. And should."

If there is nothing in her contract about incentive pay, then she cannot legally receive incentive pay. The state constitution prohibits additional or retroactive compensation for services that have already been performed - see article II, section 25 - unless there is some clear-cut expectation when the contract was written that she would be eligible for additional pay. If it is in her contract that the Board decides, then it is at their complete discretion. They should say "No".

Stu said...

Gavroche -

See? I knew after I posted that I mis-wrote that sentence but didn't go back and fix it . . . it said:

"I honestly believe that MGJ believes everything she says and that she's getting good results

when it should have said:

"I honestly believe that MGJ believes everything she says and that she thinks that she's getting good results."

I think she's terrible. It concerns me that she's blind to issues that really matter and set in her ways. I believe she'll be here for, maybe, another year . . . maybe if ANY test goes up she'll use that as justification for all the turmoil and parlay it into a job in another city. She must be tired of the rain, right?


Chuck said...

MGJ seeking additional compensation for her mediocre work is off putting, particularly in a year where so many people have lost their jobs. Even more repugnant is the fact that her daughter attends the free preschool program at South Shore, a program with a very long waiting list (I know, my son was on that list). Should a person who makes over a quarter million dollars a year be allowed to take up one of the few free preschool spots in the public school system she oversees? Perhaps she should write a check to the school district for that cost as well.

Renee said...

This is so disgusting. And the gulf between those of us in the "trenches" and those generals on the hill is EXTREMELY vast. How is it possible that she would think that this is ok? How is it even remotely possible? It is VERY true that people are afraid to speak out - I've never felt so much like "big brother is watching me" in all of my life...

Stu said...

But did they offer it and did she take it? Did anyone stay to the final seconds when they proposed, or didn't propose, this bonus?


Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll call tomorrow and find out.

gavroche said...

According to Nina Shapiro at Seattle Weekly, the proposal was introduced at the board meeting and will be voted on Dec. 9.

I'm envisioning a protest with signs reading: "What $5,280 could buy for our kids' schools: [fill in the blank]"

Check out the tortured logic DeBell and Sundquist give for the bonus:

"School Board Proposes Yet More Money for Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson",

By Nina Shapiro in Education
Thursday, Nov. 19 2009 @ 12:38PM

(Goodloe-Johnson, shown here accepting a gift at a Seattle Goodwill breakfast, has been much less visible during the controversy over the district's neighborhood schools plan)

​As the Seattle Public School Board approved a landmark new assignment plan last night, it also introduced a proposal to give Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson a $5,000 performance bonus. One might think that the superintendent already makes enough money in recession times, having received a 10 percent raise last year, bringing her salary up to $264,000--more than that of the governor.

"Are you out of your mind?" asked parent, schools blogger and onetime SW contributor Sue Peters in an e-mail to Boardmember Steve Sundquist, who introduced the proposal. The timing of the bonus is also questionable given that the superintendent has done little to publicly sell or explain the assignment plan that for the time in decades assigns students to schools based on where they live.

The superintendent attended few of the community engagement meetings that took place across the city over the last month. Instead, she left that task to board members and Enrollment Manager Tracy Libros, who showed up night after night to answer questions from parents, many of whom voiced concern about mandating neighborhood schools in light of the fact that some neighborhoods have better schools than others. Libros, rather than Goodloe-Johnson, also briefed the press and, often, the board.

How different from former Superintendent and onetime Army General John Stanford, a master at rallying public support, or even from Goodloe-Johnson's predecessor, Raj Manhas, who personally handled announcements of school closures and other big district decisions.

"Raj owned those tough decisions," School Board president Michael DeBell acknowledges. "He carried the weight. He got out in public." Regarding the contrast with Goodloe-Johnson, he says, "I'm not sure what to say about that," but adds that she has a "different style. She delegates quite a bit to those she considers her key and trusted managers." Goodloe-Johnson has not yet responded to a request for comment.

In any case, the bonus is based on an evaluation that does not take such things into account. Instead, Sundquist explains, it looks at the district's performance on 17 measures, most of them related to WASL scores. The district met improvement goals on four of those measures, thus allowing the superintendent a proportional share of the $26,000 in bonus money she is eligible for.

The district committed to performance-based bonuses when it hired Goodloe-Johnson, DeBell and Sundquist note. They say the board would eventually like to institute performance pay throughout the system--an idea the Obama administration has been championing--and are starting at the top. "The one employee we have control over is the superintendent," DeBell says. The board will vote on the bonus on Dec. 9.

Whether the public will approve of the bonus is another matter, especially if its interaction with the superintendent is limited during tumultuous times.

SolvayGirl1972 said...


"The one employee we have control over is the superintendent," DeBell says.

Really?! So DeBell thinks the board can make the superintendent bow to it's wishes. Really?!

I guess that also means DeBell thinks the super regards what the board has to say on things. Really?!

Or that the Board is actually controlling the shots in the District. Really?!

Come on. Really?!

(My apologies to SNL's Weekend Update)

Andrew Kwatinetz said...

Was there ever a satisfactory explanation as to why staff was pushing for a D average to graduate? It seemed to come out of nowhere -- certainly not "excellence for all." Now we're learning more about the scorecards being used to evaluate staff and determine compensation. I sure hope the D average proposal wasn't motivated by easier bonuses. The potential link concerns me. I'm all for performance incentives, but it has to be for real performance.

KG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KG said...

I believe the answer to everything is to privatize the entire District to Halliburton and pay MGJ 20 million plus incentives per year if she can maintain a loyal and dedicated work force. I am sure privitizing this District will work as good as medical insurance companies do taking such wonderful care of us. At least this could be another social program for the wealthy.

SPSMom said...

Since MGJ is getting a chunk of change for the 6th grade reading results I went back and checked how these 6th graders performed two years ago when they were 4th graders, MGJ's first year I believe.

District wide 4th grade Reading WASL = 80% pass

District wide 6th grade Reading WASL = 71% pass


Seems to me that we are losing ground here!

Charlie Mas said...

Danny Westneat ran a column on the superintendent's bonus. He doesn't regard it as an outrage, more as a sort of head-scratcher. He writes about it with a sort of "Hey, listen to this. Isn't this kinda weird and funny?" and then he's ready to turn the page and forget all about it. He trivializes it, which causes others to trivialize it as well. Hey, what's $5,000 out of a $550 million budget? It's nothing. It's goofy to take it seriously. The district would spend almost as much sending a registered letter to every teacher.

That reminds me. Did the academic coaches get those letters? Aren't they teachers?

followthatdog said...

I just sent her an email suggesting she donate it to the schools since times are hard.
Thanks for brining this to our attention. How frustrating.