Teaching Profession

N.Y.C. Principals’ Union Takes Issue With Bonus Plan

By Mark Stricherz — June 13, 2001 2 min read
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Only days after New York City officials announced a merit-pay plan for top school leaders, the administrators’ union is threatening to sue to stop part of it from taking effect.

Jill S. Levy, the president of the Council of Supervisors and Administrators, said the union was concerned that the plan would exclude administrators in schools designated as low-performing by the state. Ms. Levy said that if such schools were not included among the 300 where school leaders are to receive merit pay, the union would sue for breach of contract. (“N.Y.C. Administrators To Receive Merit Pay for Boosting Scores,” June 6, 2001.)

“These schools have obviously made tremendous strides forward, but they have a longer road ahead,” Ms. Levy said. District leaders are “only looking at one year’s performance; that’s all we’re looking at here. There needs to be more objective criteria.”

Currently, 97 city schools are designated by the state as “under registration review” for their poor academic performance, said Deputy Mayor Anthony P. Coles.

Mr. Coles denied that leaders at low-performing schools would be precluded from receiving bonuses. “If the school is still on the registration-review list, but they did very well and merit rewards, the principal will be eligible for merit pay,” he said.

He did say, however, that administrators would not be eligible for consideration for merit pay if their schools were put under registration review this year. “It doesn’t make any sense to give merit pay to principals at failing schools that have been newly identified,” he said.

At stake are bonuses of up to $15,000 for school principals and other administrators. Under the plan, schools will be sorted into three categories—low, middle, and high. Within those groups, schools that have improved the most on city and state tests between 1999 and 2000 will be eligible for the rewards. For high schools, factors such as dropout and suspension rates will also be used. District officials say they plan to control for such factors as students’ economic circumstances.

The schools will not be identified publicly until the their top administrators each write a paper on how they raised student achievement. In addition, eligible supervisors must have been rated satisfactory and served in the school or district for at least three months.

The merit-pay plan is part of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s broader attempt to reward and punish school leaders. His administration earlier had negotiated doing away with tenure for the city’s principals.

The Council of Supervisors and Administrators agreed to the merit-pay initiative as part of a five-year collective bargaining agreement that expired March 1. Ms. Levy said the union plans to start negotiating for a new agreement with the district sometime this month or next.

Along with leaders at 300 schools, supervisors from eight district offices and the high school superintendency will also be eligible for the bonuses.

The size of the bonuses will be tied to how much their schools improve within each of the three groups. Administrators in the top 5 percent of their cohorts will receive increases between $7,500 and $15,000. The other bonuses will be between $2,750 and $10,000.

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A version of this article appeared in the June 13, 2001 edition of Education Week as N.Y.C. Principals’ Union Takes Issue With Bonus Plan

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