Thanks to some very generous contract terms, former Baltimore schools CEO AndrÃ©s Alonso left with a golden handshake that was extra glittery. According to chairwoman of the city school board Shanaysha Sauls, Alonso accrued nearly $150,000 in leave days, including vacation time, sick leave and personal days, for which he will be compensated.
It isn't surprising that feelings in the city are running high about the major payout due to former head of the city's schools. After all, when Alonso announced his resignation after completing a 6 year term, his contract was still 2 years away from expiration. In addition, board members waived the provision that required him to give 90 days notice.
Alonso's replacement Tisha Edwards who began her term as the interim CEO on July 1st, signed a $225,000 contract of her own which will take her through June of next year while the district conducts a search for a replacement.
According to Audrey Spalding, the director of education policy at Mackinac Center for Public Policy, contracts for superintendents are not typically so generous – even in large, urban districts like Baltimore. Spalding also expressed concern about the lack of transparency. When the news of Alonso's accumulated leave hit the news, board members declined to offer a breakdown – referring to it as a "personnel matter."
Neil Duke, former chair of the school board who led contract negotiations with Alonso in 2011, said the terms reflected the kind of leader the district needed.
"The school district should always strive to do what is in the best interests of its students and that applies to selecting and retaining the best possible leader, especially given the complexity and challenges in governing our particular district," Duke said in an email.
Erica L. Green of The Baltimore Sun explains that what makes Alonso's and Edwards' contracts a particular matter of concern is the fact that Baltimore district is both financially in the red and chronically underperforming. Alonso's $260,000 yearly salary placed him in second place in the list of highest paid Maryland superintendents, and the highest paid had been on the job for 17 years.
Other perks in Alonso's contract included a car and a $750 monthly stipend for automotive expenses. He also received another annual payment equivalent to 40 percent of his salary — $104,000 for each of the past two years — that under his contract was to be paid into a "supplemental income program" of his choice.
The schools chief also was given performance bonuses of $29,000 per year under his first contract, which he earned in each of his first three years. This year, the administrators union urged him to return the bonuses in light of allegations Alonso made that schools had cheated during the time he was awarded for rising test scores.