Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Prince George’s County Board of Education yesterday gave Superintendent John E. Deasy a pay raise and a more than $16,000 bonus after his first year on the job, citing high confidence in the school system and increased student achievement.

Mr. Deasy now will earn $273,000 a year, up from $250,000. He received the raise after an annual review based on 13 performance criteria, such as educational leadership, student achievement and accountability.

“We want John Deasy to stay with us for the long term, and we are committed to working together to advance student achievement in Prince George’s County Public Schools,” said board Chairman R. Owen Johnson Jr.

The superintendent’s four-year contract stipulated a performance-based bonus of up to $25,000 after his first year. The board awarded him $16,666 based on the review.

The board called his performance “excellent” but noted room for improvement. Members asked that the fast-paced superintendent “improve his approach to managing change to be more inclusive and accepting of feedback to enable changes to be more deep-rooted and long-lasting.”

The board members also asked that he work with them to develop a “road map for change” for the 134,000-student school system.

Mr. Deasy did not return a phone call yesterday.

Since arriving at Prince George’s County in May 2006, Mr. Deasy has introduced several initiatives, including plans for small, specialized schools by 2009, a signature program in every high school, strengthened academics at middle schools and an increase in the number of highly qualified teachers.

Some board members have raised concerns that he is moving too fast for the school system, which has failed to meet federal testing standards. Maryland State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick withheld harsh sanctions on the schools after Mr. Deasy arrived and detailed his plans to raise student achievement.

The county board noted in its review that test scores for students in kindergarten through the eighth grade have risen since Mr. Deasy arrived. On the 2007 Maryland School Assessment exams, younger students experiencing poverty, language barriers and learning disabilities reached proficiency in math and reading more than ever before in county schools. The scores also rose in the three years before Mr. Deasy became superintendent.

High school assessment scores are not available for the past school year.

The board praised Mr. Deasy for developing a cooperative relationship with the Maryland State Department of Education, a contrast with some previous superintendents. It also asked that he cultivate better communication with the board and “a better understanding of the role of board members within the community.”

In the past eight years, the county school system has had five superintendents or acting superintendents.

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