Last week the Indianapolis School Board awarded Superintendent Lewis Ferebee a $21,000 bonus, $4,000 less than what he could have earned.
But what the board didn’t say was that, like a lot of other education decisions in Indiana right now, a potential chunk of the bonus is on hold until the district officially receives its ISTEP scores and school grades.
That lack of clarity also may have left a bit of a false impression about Ferebee’s performance. The bonus he received equated to 84 percent of what he could have earned. So one way to look at it was to say the board was grading his effort as the equivalent of a B on an A to F scale.
That’s not exactly right, however, since one of the 10 factors used to judge him has yet to be determined. In fact, Ferebee’s grade is an “incomplete” for now. The board may decide to revisit the bonus once ISTEP scores are finalized.
That means he got full credit, and bonus pay, on eight of the other nine criteria used to decide the bonus.
The only area he did not get full credit for was the board’s assessment of the district’s customer service to parents and staff. He got partial credit for that.
“It was a very positive, positive review and positive conversation,” board member Mary Ann Sullivan said. “We have high expectations. … (But) I think I would be proud to get the evaluation he got for his work.”
She declined to discuss the areas where the board felt the superintendent’s work could improve.
Chalkbeat requested the performance measures used to determine Ferebee’s bonus Dec. 15, prior to the board meeting when the bonus was approved. The district provided only a partial list, which included just the eight measures for which he earned full credit. Board officials never mentioned any other criteria even after Chalkbeat made a second request for an explanation of why Ferebee didn’t get his full bonus if he had been rated successful on all measures.
Only on Monday did board officials acknowledge they failed to send all the criteria. The full list was provided today.
At his request, Ferebee will not receive any of the bonus until teachers receive a negotiated pay increase that is held up by ISTEP delays.
Because 2014-2015 ISTEP scores are not yet available, the board decided it didn’t have enough information to assess whether Ferebee had met the achievement goal, Sullivan said.
In an interview after Thursday’s board meeting, board member LaNier Echols cited issues with district communication with parents and school staff as a weakness in Ferebee’s performance, but in a follow-up call after the story was published she clarified that communication was not one of the metrics used to determine his bonus.
Sullivan said the measures the board used to determine the bonus, which were agreed on before she joined the board, do not accurately reflect the new board’s priorities. The board plans to revise the metrics so they better match the strategic plan for the district, she said.
The goals Ferebee fully accomplished included successfully rebranding IPS, developing a strong strategic plan, implementing post-secondary plans for IPS graduates, reducing out of school suspensions by 10 percent, reducing student arrests by 10 percent, crafting a capital project plan, improving transportation service and implementing a school year budget process.
They were weighted equally, so each one was worth a $2,500 bonus for the superintendent.