Schools notebook // Superintendent performance goals set

Superintendent performance goals set

Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson could earn a bonus for boosting student achievement and meeting other performance-pay goals approved by the School Board Sept. 9.

“We are very excited and apprehensive at the same time because this is new,” said Board Member Jill Davis who, with fellow board members Chris Stewart and Carla Bates served on a subcommittee that developed the performance goals. Davis called the pay incentives included in the superintendent’s contract “pretty unique in

Johnson earns a base salary of $190,000 per year, but could earn up to an additional $30,000 if she meets goals in three areas: increasing academic achievement and closing the achievement gap; implementing School Board and superintendent goals for the 2010–2011 school year; and strengthening relationships within the district.

“We tried to make the goals very consistent with the overall direction of our school district,” Davis said.

She said half of Johnson’s bonus would be based on her success in increasing student achievement and closing the achievement gap, reflecting district

The School Board set specific goals in each area they will use to assess the superintendent’s progress. Measures of success in boosting student performance include whether Johnson has prepared more students for kindergarten and if she has reduced the achievement gap by raising the achievement of students of color, for instance.

Davis said the new contract “sets the tone and the expectation for the future of Minneapolis Public Schools” by setting clear measures of accountability for the person at the top of the district.

Bates called the contract a “model” for the rest of the state, a comment echoed later by School Board Chair Tom Madden, who said other district might want to “consider similar deals.”

Said Bates: “Everyone now who works for the district needs to understand that the superintendent now has goals to keep those kids first, just like everybody else in this district is expected to do.”

The superintendent’s contract requires Johnson to provide a written summary of her performance no later than Sept. 30, 2011, at which point the School Board will review the information and decide if she has met her goals. They could award a portion of the total bonus if they decide Johnson has only partially achieved the goals.


Southwest, Blake students named National Merit semifinalists

Eight of the 11 Minneapolis Public Schools students named semifinalists in the 2010 National Merit Scholarship Program competition attend Southwest High School.

The Blake School’s Upper School in Lowry Hill reported 12 semifinalists of its own in September.

Leah Foecke, Beatrice Gantzer, Samuel Hills, Talia Kaatz, Jason Paller-Rzepka, Dylan Pfandler, Matthew Sikkink-Johnson and David Smith of Southwest were among about 16,000 semifinalists in the 56th year of the competition. The high school seniors will vie for one of the 8,400 National Merit Scholarships to an institution of higher education awarded next spring that together are worth more than $36 million.

Blake’s semifinalists were Rafael Abramovitz, Christopher Bessette, Kate Cieslowski, Casey Colby, Audrey Greene, Austin Gromatzky, Sutton Higgins, George Humphrey, Benjamin Meline, Brett Szalapski, Blake Woodworth and Oliver Zosel.

The non-profit National Merit Scholarship Corporation selects semifinalists based on their scores as juniors on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.


MPS hires academics officer

Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson in September had yet to name the person who will fill her former position as the district’s chief academic officer, but the district announced a new deputy who will work directly with Johnson in the meantime.

Emily Puetz, who formerly worked as an independent consultant for Minnesota school districts, was named deputy chief academic officer. Puetz will serve near the top of a department tasked with accelerating student achievement.

District spokesperson Emily Lowther said Johnson still intended to name a chief academic officer.

Puetz, prior to her work as a consultant, worked in public schools in Boston, Chicago and Eden Prairie. She led Eden Prairie Schools’ teaching and learning team, managing curriculum as well as district development and planning efforts.


Partnership provides eye screening for district students

A vision-screening program that began Sept. 20 in Minneapolis Public Schools was expected to reach more than 12,500 students in the 2010–2011 school year.

Phillips Eye Institute’s Early Youth Eyecare, or EYE, Community Initiative will expand to reach sixth-grade students this year in addition to the kindergarten, first-, third- and fifth-grade students already screened for vision problems in 43 district schools. The institute first partnered with the district in 2007.

The institute, operated by Allina Hospitals and Clinics, serves as fiscal agent for the EYE Community Initiative. EYE covers some costs for families who require financial assistance. reimbursing eye clinics for examinations, glasses and other eye care expenses.