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Originally published Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 4:00 PM

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Seattle Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson: Tis not the season for a bonus

The Seattle School Board is poised to give Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson a performance bonus, albeit a smaller one than planned.

THE Seattle School Board should rescind a scheduled bonus for Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson. If not, the city's top educator should refuse it.

It isn't that the superintendent doesn't deserve a bonus; rather, she would be crazy to accept it.

There are sound, practical reasons for not invoking the part of Goodloe-Johnson's contract requiring periodic performance-related bonuses. The proposed $5,280 bonus buys more trouble than it will be worth.

District officials have argued convincingly for spending cuts, including school and program closures and teacher layoffs. It is a budget sensibility that ought to apply here.

An example can be found in a gesture by board member Harium Martin-Morris. Last spring, he gave up for the rest of the year a $50 per meeting stipend awarded for board service. The amount is a pittance; the symbolism was huge.

Goodloe-Johnson's bonus is the district's first attempt at a new performance-pay plan aligning compensation with accomplishment. But the superintendent's performance this year was more than adequate but less than stellar. The board, at its November meeting, announced that just four of 20 superintendent work goals were met.

The met goals shouldn't be downplayed: standardized test scores in writing, reading and science increased in some grades. Still, Goodloe-Johnson's vision for our schools remains a work in progress.

Goodloe-Johnson's $264,000 salary makes her one of the highest-paid public employees in Washington. Other perks include $20,000 per year in a retirement fund and a $700-per-month car allowance.

Casting an eye toward a public viewing her budget through the lens of budget-strapped classrooms, Goodloe-Johnson would do well to take a pass this time around.

The superintendent's contract calls for bonuses of up to 10 percent of her salary. A year in which she walks away with $26,000 should also be the year South End schools catch up with the rest of the city and parents access quality programs at their nearest school. Now that would be money well spent.

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