Minneapolis schools chief given a new 3-year pact

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 27, 2012 - 9:58 PM
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Bernadeia Johnson

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Bernadeia Johnson won't get a raise in her $190,000 base salary as Minneapolis schools superintendent but she'll get a shot at a richer performance bonus.

The Minneapolis school board unanimously approved Johnson's new three-year contract Tuesday night. It makes few changes other than to raise her maximum bonus from $30,000 to $40,000 and grant her more life insurance coverage.

The new pact gives Johnson a chance to become the first superintendent to serve for six years since Carol Johnson, who left in 2003. "This is an unbelievable privilege," Bernadeia Johnson said.

The contract also confirms her as the choice of the current board, six of whose eight members joined after she was promoted to the job in 2010. "Tonight she is officially my superintendent," said Hussein Samatar, one of four new members elected later that year.

Board Member Richard Mammen said Johnson's willingness to depend on a bonus for any increased compensation shows she's "instituted a culture based on achievement." Key elements of that culture include new evaluations this year for all teachers and revamped evaluations for principals.

"Minneapolis Public Schools must be a workplace that is results-driven," Johnson said in a prepared statement.

St. Paul Superintendent Valeria Silva, who has been in her job a year longer than Johnson, will leapfrog her in base pay on Dec. 16. That's when Silva's salary rises from $187,306 to $193,000 under a raise granted last March. Silva also gets $11,000 in longevity pay for her 25 years with the district, 2 percent annual inflationary pay hikes in future years and an added 1 percent annually if she has a satisfactory job review.

But the Minneapolis board prefers a pay-for-performance approach, according to Board Member Rebecca Gagnon. The board awarded Johnson a bonus of $12,184 during the initial year of her contract. This year's bonus hasn't yet been decided because not all of the data required to do so has been received. That's also held up setting new goals for Johnson.

Board Chairman Alberto Monserrate said he felt Johnson deserved a raise but the difficult economy and lack of a salary increase for many employees argued for putting any increased compensation into a performance bonus. He negotiated with Johnson on the board's behalf.

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438

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