PELTO: "New Policy: Bonuses unless we get caught"

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

According to a Hartford Courant article by written by reporter Vanessa De la Torree, Christina Kishimoto, Hartford's Superintendent of School, decided to rescind $38,976 in performance bonuses to six of her top deputies earlier this week.  The action came after the Hartford Board of Education announced that it would be discussing the matter at their board meeting.

Apparently the Hartford Board of Education voted, last year, to prohibit performance bonuses for senior staff.

However, Kishimoto had scheduled bonuses for her senior staff.  Just before the board's most recent meeting, Superintendent Kishimoto responded wrote to the board saying, "I have recently learned that the board is not comfortable with this new language and compensation system...Therefore, I will not be processing the variable pay [bonuses]."

According to the Courant story, Matt Polland, the Chairman of the board said, "The board is happy about her decision to forgo the performance pay for her cabinet."

This is hardly the first time that bonuses have been used within the Hartford School System.

Former superintendent of schools, Steven Adamwoski, was a big fan and major recipient of bonuses and merit pay.  When he was superintendent, Adamowski would normally demand that he receive performance bonuses based on the job performance rating.  For example, if his performance rating was 75 percent, he would be paid 75 percent of his scheduled bonus.

This is the same practice that got Kishimoto, the present Superintendent into so much trouble in recent weeks.  The pay crisis developed when Kishimoto's attorneys demanded that she receive 56 percent of her bonus to match the dismal 56 percent job rating that she received from the board.  Eventually Kishimoto announced that although she was entitled to the pay, she would forgo the bonus.

The concept of "merit pay" is also part of the broader contracts that the Hartford Board of Education has with teachers and administrators.  Earlier this fall, more than $2 million in bonuses were paid out to school employees based on how well their schools performed.

Linking bonus pay to student and school performance remains one of the most popular and controversial elements of "education reform" efforts, since it sets up a system where there are significant financial incentives to manipulate test scores.

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