Kishimoto’s Contract

Now that Christina Kishimoto will be the next superintendent of schools, here’s a question:  For how long?

Here’s why — the future of the schools is clearly going to be an issue for the rest of the mayoral campaign.  While the mayor has little control over the board of education, as demonstrated by the last week’s events, there is this: Whoever becomes mayor gets to appoint five new board members to the board of education (or reappoint the ones who are already there).  And there’s no way to know whether that potentially new majority on the board of education will share the current board’s feeling for Kishimoto.

So does this board give her a three year contract? Or something shorter to insulate against political winds?

It will also be worth watching whether she will be eligible for the performance bonuses that have become an issue of late.  All things to keep an eye on.



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4 responses to “Kishimoto’s Contract

  1. Thom

    Jeff: I fear the result of your inquiry could end up, as has been so typical of late, costing the City financially down the road. If history is any guide, the current BOE stands a decent chance of entering into a “sweetheart” deal with Kishimoto, offering her what amounts to soft employment guarantees if she is somehow removed before the end of her contract. By “soft” I mean she would have at least a plausible cause of action for wrongful termination if in the future she falls out of grace with the then current BOE. This possibility exists because when these relationships typically break down, the BOE will not have any documentd cause to fire her otherwise. Accordingly, she would be able to claim the benefits (salary) of the “soft” guarantees in her contract and therefore receive all, or almost all, of the remaining salary through the contracted end of her term, versus receiving nothing because of either 1) documented bad performance or 2) a shorter contract term. (Bad performance is usually too difficult to document in these types of cases, which is all the more reason to only enter into shorter contracts)

    Historcally, the future BOE will inevitably grow tired of her (we often do) or will reject her from the onset of their term (Segarra’s picks next January?), and decide at some point to dismiss her, even though they might be tied to overly generous provisions possibly placed in her contract by the prior BOE. That would then cost the City a large, completely unnecessary employment settlement with her, which all too often is how contracts have ended with City employees who end up out of favor with the then current city administrators/elected officials.

    Mr. McDonald has been around for awhile, and should well know the possibility/probability of this occurring, so let’s wait and see what judgment he brings to this important endeavor before him.

  2. peter brush

    The problems with the Hartford School District are largely intractable. We’ve had many Supers come and go, had a half-hearted go at privatization, and even had the State impose its own Board. We are led to believe some (modest) progress has been made in recent years. At this point it seems to me it would be to the good if the Board, present and prospective, would leave the new Super alone, let her do her work, and evaluate it at the end of her contract. The District could have better or worse Supers, but there is a risk to the organization in forever shifting personnel.
    If we are concerned about the Board’s budget, and we certainly should be even if it is largely made up of “inter-governmental transfers,” any payoff to a Super in disfavor would be far less consequential than the teacher’s contract that the Board currently has under consideration.

    • Thom

      Peter: Glad to see you are in agreement that we should be concerned about the BOE budget. By we, I assume you mean the citizenry, who have a mayor who is likewise concerned and hence, his heretofore unanswered questions about 2.7 million in bonuses. And while I agree the teacher’s contract is a huge potential game killer and should receive the mayor’s scrutiny as well, the Super’s contract is nothing to ignore. It’s duration is a critical factor to keeping the Super’s feet to the fire and illustrating that the BOE can be fiscally prudent, however more or less the value of the expenditure.

  3. peter brush

    “illustrating that the BOE can be fiscally prudent…”

    Not sure what evidence of such prudence we have. On the other hand, BOE is limited by State’s pro-labor education statutes. I’d like an explanation from the BOE for the raises. While we’re at it, I’d like a statement from the Board explaining the recent arbitration fiasco; that on the one hand the State demands “reform, on the other hand it allows the Federation dictate work rules running counter to the reform.

    I believe, in general, hiring should not imply firing. Give the woman a three year contract, and let her do her work. And, especially, may the politicians shut up.

    The bonus affair is still a mystery to me. I have seen it said that a. they were apropos of contract, b.) signed off on by Board, and c.) explained in a press release by the Superintendent. If they were “inappropriate” as the Mayor has suggested, I see no evidence of it. And, going forward, such bonuses are indeed reportedly a part of the proposed three year teacher contract.

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