UPDATE, Wednesday, April 22, 2015, 7:15 p.m.: The School Board unanimously approved a contract paying new superintendent Isaac Joseph an annual salary of $200,000 for a term beginning May 1 and running through Dec. 31, 2016. That had been amended from a contract originally proposed for Joseph on Tuesday, which was for an annual salary of $230,000 and for a term that ran from May 1 through 2017.
The approved contract would also provide a vehicle — gasoline and maintenance included. A monthly car allowance of $1,000 had originally been proposed for Joseph.
UPDATE, Wednesday, April 22, 2015, 5:45 p.m.: At an executive committee meeting Wednesday, Jefferson Parish School Board President Cedric Floyd said there were a number of recommended changes to the contract that would be considered later in the evening to new parish schools superintendent Isaac Joseph.
The biggest changes: Joseph’s annual salary will be reduced from $230,000 to $200,000, and the contract will run from May 1 to Dec. 31, 2016, instead of through 2017. The new proposed contract would also provide a vehicle — gasoline and maintenance included — for Joseph instead of a monthly car allowance of $1,000.
The School Board’s executive committee is made up of seven of the nine board members. The full board will vote on whether to approve the contract for Joseph later Wednesday evening.
Two Jefferson Parish School Board members said they were perturbed Wednesday that a proposed contract for the new superintendent was drawn up and released to the public without input from everyone on the panel.
In fact, according to School Board members Mark Morgan and Larry Dale, the only person who had any input into a contract draft that was publicized Tuesday and could be worth an annual salary of $230,000 for almost three years was School Board President Cedric Floyd.
“The preferred practice is for the entire board to have input into the superintendent’s contract prior to its release to the public,” said Morgan, hours before he and his colleagues were scheduled to vote on whether to authorize the terms of the proposed work agreement. “No one had any input into this contract except Mr. Floyd.”
Dale added, “(Floyd) acted totally unilaterally.”
Floyd did not immediately respond to a pair of messages left for him Wednesday afternoon.
Though it’s expected the School Board will ultimately approve a contract for Isaac Joseph, a superintendent it chose by a 6-3 vote on April 15, the remarks from Morgan and Dale hinted at the possibility that some members may push to lower the proposed agreement’s annual salary, length of time, or both during any discussion prior to Wednesday evening’s vote at Bonnabel Magnet Academy High School in Kenner. The proposed contract for Joseph would take effect May 1 and run through Dec. 31, 2017 if approved without amendments.
The School Board elected Joseph to succeed former superintendent James Meza over five other candidates. The field Joseph emerged from included Michelle Blouin-Williams, who has been serving as the interim superintendent ever since Meza retired at the end of January.
Joseph has been a part of the Jefferson school system for 29 years and most recently has been the district’s executive director of grants and federal programs.
Brought in as an interim superintendent in 2011, Meza’s contract was later renewed through 2014. His annual salary was $248,000. Blouin-Williams, Meza’s deputy superintendent, has been paid what would amount to an annual salary of $225,000.
Like Blouin-Williams’ and Meza’s contracts, the one proposed for Joseph provides a car allowance and monthly reimbursement for out-of-pocket business expenses. The proposal would give Joseph a monthly reimbursement of up to $600, as opposed to $1,000 for Meza and $500 for Blouin-Williams.
Neither Morgan nor Dale spoke much about what they intended to do or say at Wednesday’s meeting. Nonetheless, Morgan said it was his belief the salary of a new superintendent without a track record should not automatically equal that of the predecessor’s, whose body of work is already laid out.
Meanwhile, Dale said he hoped to see more explicit performance measures in the final contract offered to Joseph. On that front, the draft from Tuesday read, “On or before July 1st of each year, the Board and the Superintendent shall agree, in writing, on the goals and objectives for the Jefferson Parish School Board, all of which shall become part of the terms and conditions of this contract as if copied (in full).”
A contract extension offered to Meza on Dec. 5, 2012, included targets for district, school and student performance, as well as plans to improve low-performing schools, to better support English language learners, and to enhance students’ preparation for college and paid careers, a district news release said at the time.
At an executive committee meeting early Wednesday evening, Floyd said Meza’s contract had specific performance targets because the Jefferson Parish school system had a “D” rating from the state. The school system now has an improved “B” rating, Floyd said.
Nonetheless, Floyd assured the committee that performance goals for Joseph would be set well before the July 1 deadline mentioned in the contract with input from various stakeholders. Topics Floyd expected to be covered by the benchmarks involved test scores, teachers, finances, contract compliance and “salary appropriateness.”