Superintendent Eileen Shafer is receiving a bigger base salary as part of a contract renegotiation with the Board of Education.
Shafer’s base salary is set at $233,000 under the 2018 contract with her being able to earn another $35,000 by meeting merit goals. Her contract runs from 2018 to 2022.
“The amendment to the contract is removing merit pay,” said school board president Kenneth Simmons during a public meeting on Wednesday on making changes to Shafer’s contract. “So, we will take a portion of that merit pay and roll it into the superintendent’s base salary.”
Simmons did not state what exactly Shafer’s new base pay will be. Increase in base salary will result in a boost in pension for Shafer after she retires, officials said.
School board members held the Wednesday meeting for a public hearing on the amendment to the contract.
None of the contract changes were made public prior to the meeting.
On Thursday morning, Shafer’s press office would not provide a list of the changes being made in the contract.
No parents, teachers, or residents called in during the virtual public hearing.
“These amendments, you know, will reflect, you know, in detail the cost savings potentially to our district,” said school board vice president Manny Martinez.
No one in the public knows of the savings Martinez is referring to. He did not provide any figures at the meeting.
Shafer was approved for a $19,408 bonus pay in February for meeting three of the five merit goals set by the school board. School officials said she was never paid that amount.
Shafer took office after former state-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans resigned in 2017. She had been Evans’ deputy. Her tenure as superintendent has been a rocky one. Graduation rates have dropped two years in a row. Academic improvements have been stagnant. And she has filed tenure charges against a popular gym teacher for, among other things, ostensible libel and slander.
The school district was also woefully unprepared when the coronavirus pandemic struck. Schools were closed for three months. Most students lacked computer devices to receive an online education.
Shafer distributed Chromebooks to high school students in late April. Thousands of elementary school students were without devices. The school district is hoping to get every student a device before the start of the new school year.
School board members rejected her request to extend the contract by another year, according to multiple sources.
“My comments are based on observations, having not seen the amended contract,” said Rosie Grant, executive director for the Paterson Education Fund, who was the sole speaker at the meeting. “I want to say that the community is more engaged. than ever before with our schools.”
Grant said the community had never been “invited to the table” the way Shafer has done during her tenure. She mentioned Shafer’s superintendent’s roundtable and expansion of full-service community schools.
Shafer has tried to meet students’ social needs through expansion of full-service community schools and restorative justice initiatives at 14 schools, said Grant.
Amidst the pandemic, with schools closed, Shafer had her team distributing tens of thousands of meals to students, mostly from low-income households.
School board members will take a vote on the amended contract on July 15.
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