Schools notebook // Superintendent contract approved

Board approves superintendent contract

Minneapolis Public Schools’ next superintendent will earn a base salary of $190,000 a year, but could earn up to $220,000 a year if goals for improving student achievement are met.

The School Board approved the three-year contract for Bernadeia Johnson at its June 8 meeting. Johnson, who previously served as the district’s chief academic officer, takes over July 1 from outgoing Superintendent Bill Green.

Noting negotiations with Green three years earlier led to a “significantly lower” contract value compared to previous superintendents, School Board Chair Tom Madden said Johnson would earn slightly less than Green.

“We’re a shrinking district and we’ve got tough budget challenges, so the overall salary is a little bit lower,” Madden said.

Still, Johnson has the opportunity to earn up to $30,000 per year in bonus payments if she meets specific academic goals set by the School Board — a first for a Minneapolis superintendent’s contract.

Each of three annual performance goals is worth up to $10,000, but the School Board may choose to pay her less than the full bonus amounts if the goals are only partially met. Board members must set the 2010–2011 school year performance goals by Aug. 31, and will evaluate Johnson’s performance in one year, according to the contract.

The contract allows Johnson 12 paid sick days each year, but does not allow her to accumulate unused sick days from year-to-year. She will not be paid for unused sick days.

Johnson will earn 28 paid vacation days per year, and may take up to 10 unpaid “professional growth days.”

In another departure from previous superintendents’ contracts, Johnson must pay the employee share of health plan costs, but the district will contribute $2,000 each year to a health savings account for Johnson.

Madden acknowledged the $400 monthly car allowance had been a controversial piece of previous superintendents’ contracts, but said it would remain available to Johnson.

According to the district, Green earned $194,100 during the 2007–2008 school year, the first of his contract. After twice waiving annual raises and taking a voluntary 2 percent pay cut in 2009, his salary shrank slightly to $190,218 for the 2009–2010 school year.

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Barton hosts summer arts workshop

EAST HARRIET — Barton Community Education will offer four weeks of summer arts classes beginning July 12 at Clara Barton Open School, 4237 Colfax Ave. S.

About 10 classes each week will focus on arts and activities like drawing, hip hop, pottery, preparing snacks from the garden, storytelling and even — in this World Cup year — “The Art of Soccer.” Instructors have experience in their workshop subjects and include arts professionals and teachers.

Most classes are offered for students in grades 2–8 and cost $100–$125 for the week. The only two-week class on the schedule, “Exploring and Preparing for Broadway,” is open to students in grades 6–12 and costs $200.

The summer arts workshops run Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.–3 p.m., with a break for lunch. Plans are to end each week with a Thursday afternoon family ice cream social at Lyndale Park Rose Garden a few blocks from Barton.

Classes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Tuition assistance is available.

For more information on the workshops, contact Cindy Smedberg of Barton Community Education at 668-3585 or cindy.smedberg@mpls.k12.mn.us.

A copy of the summer workshops brochure is available for download on the Barton website: barton.mpls.k12.mn.us/barton_summer_art_workshops.html.

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Southwest High School near top of best schools list

LINDEN HILLS — Southwest High School outperformed every other school in the state in Newsweek’s annual ranking of the country’s best public high schools.

At 115, Southwest was the highest-ranked Minnesota school on the list of about 1,600 public high schools. Patrick Henry High School in North ranked 833.

The magazine calculates its “Challenge Index” by adding up the number of rigorous Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge tests given each year at a school and dividing by the number of graduating seniors. Each school on the list reached a ratio of at least 1.000, although the magazine noted that doesn’t mean that each graduating seniors took one of the tests.

The complete list can be found online at newsweek.com, along with an explanation of how the rankings were calculated.

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MPS offers summer lunches

Minneapolis Public Schools will offer free summer meals to all children and teens up to age 18 through Aug. 19.

The district is the local sponsor of the Summer Food Service Program paid for by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While many students receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year, they may not get their nutritional needs met during the summer, and the program is meant to fill that nutrition gap.

The meals are available at about 100 sites across the city, including schools and recreation centers. To find a nearby site, go to foodservice.mpls.k12.mn.us or use the interactive map sponsored by Second Harvest Heartland at summerlunchmap.2harvest.org.

Parents also may call United Way at (651) 291-0211 for help with locating a nearby meal site.

There will be no food service Monday, July 5.