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DPS board awards Boasberg bonus

Denver Public Schools board members unanimously approved their annual evaluation of Superintendent Tom Boasberg on Thursday and awarded him a performance bonus of $17,500 for the 2010-11 school year.

Boasberg still is eligible for additional incentives of up to $25,000, based on $1,562.50 for each goal outlined in his annual contract. It will be several days before it is known how much of that $25,000 he’ll receive.

“There is still data on five or six of those that we don’t have back yet,” said board treasurer Mary Seawell.

Boasberg received $28,333 in goals-met bonuses after his 2009-10 evaluation, plus a $20,000 performance bonus. He donated his bonus money last year to the DPS Foundation and will do the same this year, according to district spokesman Mike Vaughn.

Noting that the performance bonus had slipped this year from $20,000 to $17,500 Seawell said, “As a group, we just tried to come together on a number that we all believed in, and that’s what the number came in as.”

In separate action at the noon meeting, the board unanimously decided that a scheduled increase in Boasberg’s base salary and corresponding cost-of-living raise, due to take effect Feb. 1, would be deferred until Feb. 1, 2013. Boasberg requested the delay.

“He wanted to do that, based on the cuts at the district level,” Seawell said, referring to consecutive years of cuts to per-pupil funding in Colorado.

Boasberg’s annual salary currently is $198,450. Vaughn said that Boasberg had been due to receive a $20,000 raise this past January but had also donated that to the DPS Foundation.

The board had been scheduled to meet Thursday in closed session for about 30 minutes to discuss the superintendent’s evaluation, but members actually did so for about an hour and 20 minutes.

When they returned to public session to vote on it, there were no members of the public on hand. Boasberg was not in attendance because of a scheduling conflict.

The evaluation scored Boasberg well on numerous points, including students’ academic growth, higher graduation rates, increased district enrollment, a higher number of students completing Advanced Placement courses and a decrease in the district’s dropout rate. Among the data points:

  • The number of students graduating jumped from 3,245 to 3,373 in the past year.
  • The number of students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses jumped from 3,063 to 3,329 in the past year.
  • The dropout rate decreased from 7.4 percent in 2008-09 to 6.4 percent in 2009-10.
  • Enrollment grew from 79,423 in 2010 to a projected 80,956 in 2011.

Under areas for improvement, the board’s evaluation stated that, “The rate of growth was not enough to achieve all of the district’s annual goals, specifically around the lack of movement in closing the achievement gap.”

Also, it said, “The superintendent shall present data in such a way as to engage and facilitate our creation of meaningful policy decisions that drive increased student achievement.”

After their closed session Thursday, which was preceded by another closed meeting on Sept. 15, board members kept their public comments to a minimum.

Board member Arturo Jimenez thanked his colleagues for “the very collaborative spirit” in which the evaluation was completed. He was echoed by board member Andrea Merida.

“I just want to thank all of you colleagues for crafting this document that’s really the fruit of 100 percent consensus and collaboration. I’m really proud of us for that. So thank you all,” she said.

“I suggest that we end with a rendition of ‘Kumbaya,’ ” said board president Nate Easley.

“You start, and we’ll chime in,” said Seawell. Laughter, but no singing, followed.

Boasberg, who became superintendent in January 2009, has seen his policies supported by a majority of the current board. But often approval has come on 4-3 splits, with Easley, Seawell, Bruce Hoyt and Theresa Peña on one side and Jimenez, Merida and Jeannie Kaplan on the other.

With three board seats up for grabs in the Nov. 1 election, there is the potential the board’s support for Boasberg will be strengthened, preserved or perhaps lost altogether. Hoyt and Peña are term-limited, and Jimenez is seeking re-election.

Thursday’s evaluation wasn’t the only job review Boasberg received this week, but it went better than one that came earlier.

Friends of Education, a 527 political organization formed by involved DPS parent and occasional district critic Nicolas Weiser, conducted a survey by email Sept. 16-19, inviting people to complete anonymous questionnaires. The results of the 1,228 completed surveys were published Monday.

They showed that Denver residents who responded rate Boasberg’s performance as “below average,” with 19 percent rating his performance as “poor” and 11 percent rating it “excellent.”

In areas of leadership, accountability and competence, respondents to the survey rate him as average, with 35 percent saying they are displeased with his performance in all three categories.

Weiser helped manage the campaign of Christopher Scott, who sought the citywide at-large seat won by Seawell in 2009. Scott has remained an active critic of Boasberg’s administration.

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