Decatur Superintendent Phyllis Edwards got a $5,000 raise Tuesday night as the City School Board approved a new contract paying her $175,000 for 2011-2012 and $180,000 for 2012-2013.
Edwards is also eligible for an annual performance bonus of up to $20,000, which she said she'll decline.
She earned a $18,602 bonus for the fiscal year ending in June, and the board decided to distribute the bonus to school system employees -- $75 for each instructional staff member and $50 for non-instructional staff employees.
Edwards’ contract, posted as a PDF accompanying this article, includes:
- $1,500 per month for expenses, civic and professional dues and automobile expenses, a $200 per month increase.
- 30 days paid vacation.
- Reimbursement for travel expenses outside metro Atlanta in connection with her duties as superintendent.
- Accrual of up to 125 days sick leave.
- Eligibility for insurance and other benefits and holidays available to school system employees.
- Up to $3,200 in premiums for a life insurance plan with a face value of $700,000.
- Payment of long-term disability insurance through the benefit plan available to Georgia public school employees.
The board may terminate the contract for cause, such as failing to perform her duties. If the board wants to terminate without cause, it must give 90 days notice and pay a year’s base salary.
When Patch asked Edwards about the bonus, she sent this email reply: "Over the years, especially as the bad budget years hit, I either did not take the bonus outright, as I am doing this year, did not have a raise or request a raise, or deferred taking the payment for the bonus amount earned until it was clear that the budget could handle the payment without detriment to the school system."
Edwards sent Patch a copy of her contract, which was signed by all board members except John Ahmann, whose term expires in December.
He was the only board member voting against the contract extension, saying he “will not support a multi-year contract for this superintendent.”
Ahmann also voted against proposed performance goals for the superintendent because the goals "have way too much weight on process and not near enough on student learning outcomes.”
For example, Ahmann noted that last year, 70 percent of students met learning target goals on the MAP, the standardized test used by the school system.
“That means 30 percent of the kids haven’t hit their learning targets,” Ahmann said.
Other board members approved the goals. Board Chairman Marc Wisniewski said meeting 70 percent of student achievement goals is proof that the target was a stretch and not easily obtained.
Edwards defended the proposed goals, noting several that were “specific and academically oriented.”
“You have never been easy on me,” Edwards told the board. “As far as process goes, while it may appear easy, it is not easy.”
The superintendent said she worked to develop a system-wide campus plan, a master plan and has overseen the resurrection of Fifth Avenue as a fourth and fifth grade academy.
Board Member Julie Rhame, who was re-elected to her seat Tuesday with no opposition, commended Edwards for declining or giving away her bonuses.
“I don’t know another superintendent who does this,” Rhame said.
Rhame also noted that multi-year contracts have routinely been offered in the past.
Edwards invited board members to rewrite her performance goals if they felt the ones in her contract weren’t sufficient.
“I’m not afraid of a stretch or challenge or anything like that,” said Edwards. “I‘m not offended.”
Ahmann said his board replacement should have had a chance to weigh in on the contract extension. After the meeting concluded, election returns showed Garrett Goebel had been chosen to fill Ahmann's seat.