Jonathan Raymond

New contract for Sacramento city schools chief heads to vote

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B

Sacramento City Unified School District trustees will vote Thursday on a two-year extension of Superintendent Jonathan Raymond's contract, which otherwise would expire in June.

The contract was negotiated and approved by trustees in closed session before being placed on Thursday's consent agenda, which is typically for items that don't need discussion and are likely to pass.

The district's teachers union, which has had a strained relationship with the superintendent, is urging trustees to instead consider a one-year contract extension.

"There is a lot more work to do," Raymond said Tuesday. "I am excited about the progress we are making and the direction we are going."

Under the contract being considered, Raymond's salary of $245,000 would remain the same. But beginning in December 2013, his retirement annuity would be increased from $11,500 to $15,000 and his monthly expense and travel allowance would increase from $750 to $1,000.

As in his current contract, Raymond would not receive health benefits, although he can purchase them through the school district.

"I thought it was a humble contract, commensurate with the fiscal issues we are experiencing," said trustee Jeff Cuneo. "I thought it was a fair contract overall."

Sacramento City Teachers Association President Scott Smith said communication has recently improved somewhat between Raymond and SCTA, but "he keeps ignoring the contract and we keep making him pay attention to it."

Smith also said districtwide test scores "have been less than stellar overall" under Raymond.

Sacramento City Unified trustees hired Raymond to a four-year contract in August 2009. He previously was the chief accountability officer for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, a job he took after graduating from the Broad Superintendents Academy in 2006.

The Broad academy aims to take business executives and train them to lead school districts, a practice that critics say has led to the use of corporate management approaches that are ill fit for education.

Raymond has tangled with the teachers union leaders over some of the superintendent's signature reforms. Raymond reorganized the district's office, adding several high-paying positions with corporate-sounding titles while streamlining and eliminating many other administrative positions, which the district estimates saved $5 million.

He also created Priority Schools, an initiative in which seven of the neediest schools in the district were given additional resources and protected from the effects of teacher turnover during layoffs. SCTA and a group of teachers filed separate, ongoing lawsuits challenging the Priority Schools initiative, which relied on skipping less-senior teachers during layoffs.

"One of the reasons we are concerned about Priority Schools is it took resources from other schools that were almost as low-performing," said Smith of SCTA.

Other groups, including a national think tank called the Education Trust, have lauded the Priority Schools initiative, which has also been supported by Sacramento City Unified trustees.

Raymond also has led efforts for inclusion programs for special education students and is leading the district's efforts to address racial inequalities in expulsion and suspension rates, trustees said.

"He has continued to do innovative things with fewer resources than when he got here," trustee Patrick Kennedy said.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Melody Gutierrez



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