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L.A. school board approves amended contract for Supt. John Deasy

EducationJohn DeasyPoliticsLos Angeles Unified School DistrictPension and WelfareTravel

Los Angeles Unified schools Supt. John Deasy has a newly modified contract that includes an annual buyout of unused vacation days and new performance measures that require him to bring in revenue and enroll more students. He will also pay his own pension deduction for the first time, a cost offset by an increase of $20,000 to his annual salary.

The amended pact, approved by the Board of Education last week after private discussions, offers the latest evidence of a board that is exerting more control over the direction of the nation's second-largest school system.


FOR THE RECORD:
Deasy contract: An article in the March 13 LATExtra section about changes to the contract of Los Angeles Unified schools Supt. John Deasy said he originally accepted the job in 2009. He became superintendent in 2011. —


The contract was provided to the Times in response to a Public Records Act request.

Deasy originally accepted the job in 2009 with the understanding that he would be able to advance his own aggressive reforms. These included revamping teacher evaluations to include student test scores as one measure of effectiveness. Deasy also has pushed, with limited success, to conduct layoffs based on performance rather than seniority.

Deasy's revised contract drops the superintendent's previous goals related to student achievement because the state is moving to a new exam and won't provide scores.

Despite incremental progress, the district has fallen short of most of Deasy's targets, which experts have characterized as ambitious. Deasy, for example, was never able to earn a $10,000 bonus by increasing the percentage of ninth-graders proficient in algebra by 8 points.

Instead, Deasy will be required to submit a plan for increasing revenue for schools by June 30. He's also charged with increasing enrollment by 5% a year; that strategy also will be required by June 30.

The enrollment target is intended to blunt growth at independently operated charter schools. The loss of students to charter schools and for other reasons has resulted in reduced funding for district operations.

Boosting enrollment could be difficult because numbers are trending the other way. From 2009 to 2013, enrollment in L.A. Unified's campuses has dropped 11% to 567,150.

"Charters are in direct competition for our enrollment," said school board member Steve Zimmer. "Anyone who doesn't recognize that is not in contact with reality. One thing we ask for in this contract is that we compete."

Emily Galbreth, a spokeswoman for the California Charter Schools Assn., said that in choosing charters, parents are "voting with their feet."

"If LAUSD believes that this new policy will improve their educational offerings such that parents would be excited and driven to seek traditional district schools — that would be a great thing," she said.

According to the revised contract, Deasy's plan for enrollment should include developing magnet schools as well as programs designed to help students become fluent in two languages. Improving daily attendance and lowering the dropout rate also must be involved.

Deasy will be eligible for a pay bump at the end of each year for vacation days he fails to take, beyond the 36 he's allowed to accrue. Each day is worth $1,341.

In an email, Deasy said the vacation buyout was a practical matter, because he simply could not take off the 24 days a year his contract provides.

Other employees must use or lose their vacation time, although they can petition to have their maximum number of days increased. Typically, unused days are paid when an employee leaves the school system.

Only board member Bennett Kayser opposed that provision, saying that the superintendent should not, in effect, receive a pay increase prior to other employees.

The modified deal also makes more visible a salary perk that Deasy had been receiving. L.A. Unified had been paying Deasy's share of his annual obligation — $20,400 — to a state pension fund.

This contribution came on top of Deasy's $330,000 salary. Now, the district will add $20,000 to Deasy's salary, and he'll pay his share of the pension deduction.

This restructuring was proposed by general counsel David Holmquist.

He noted that some union employees also receive a subsidy for their pension deduction, but could lose that benefit under recent state regulations. These rules would not necessarily apply to Deasy, but the superintendent decided to conform to them.

Over the last year, the school board has evolved into a more assertive but fractious group less inclined to back Deasy's priorities.

In October, matters reached a low point when Deasy told insiders he wanted a buyout of his contract over personal and policy differences. He decided to stay in response to statements of support from the public and board members.

Shortly thereafter, the board evaluated the superintendent and gave him a positive review, which automatically extended his contract to June 2016.

Deasy now also will be assessed on five-point scales for his relationship with board members, his communication with them and his responsiveness to policies and positions the board adopts.

Board members have complained that Deasy has ignored or delayed complying with their numerous resolutions. Some critics have said the board passes too many of these, which are sometimes unclear or conflicting or that create too much extra work for district staff.

howard.blume@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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EducationJohn DeasyPoliticsLos Angeles Unified School DistrictPension and WelfareTravel
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