« Gearing up for 2009-2010 | Main | Vaccinating children in schools for H1N1 »

August 13, 2009

How much of a bonus does Andres Alonso deserve?

The Baltimore school board will soon be deciding how much of a bonus the CEO should receive this year. While readers of this blog may not actually get a chance to take a vote on this issue, I thought maybe you would like to give your two cents to board members who will be evaluating his job performance.

According to my reading of his contract, Alonso will receive a $10,000 automatic increase. In addition, the board can give him up to $12,000 for "demonstrated increases in the academic performance" of the city schools, up to $12,000 for management efficiencies and up to $6,000 for "implementation of creative and innovated programs" that enhance reform of the school system.

In all, Alonso could receive an increase this year of $40,000. When he was hired in 2007, he earned $230,000, about average for superintendents of large systems in the state.  I haven't been able to nail down yet what his current salary is, but I will do soon and add the information to this post. I believe he is now earning $270,000.

So what should Alonso earn? Does he deserve the whole $40,000 or none at all? Some city officials said they would donate their pay increases. Should Alonso donate his increase or defer it until the recession is over?

Posted by Liz Bowie at 11:50 AM | | Comments (30)
Categories: Baltimore City


I understand that all contracts contain achievement bonuses for executives--but really! Who actually did the work of raising test scores? Was he in the classroom or tutoring after school? If teachers aren't getting any kind of raise and they were actually in the classrooms, why should Alonso especially in this economy? Oh, wait, this is Baltimore--he'll probably get the maximum amount.

A contract is a contract... give him the $10K increase and the $12K for academic performance. The other two are still yet to be determined.

He has downsized the central office but that may have made it more irrelevant than efficient.

Creative and innovation is more like cut and paste from what I can see and there is no data to show that they are actually working. Yes some of his programs have brought back students but how are they progressing. I would like to see data on Success Academy and the other innovative schools.

The fact that he will be getting a bonus for the hard work that most of us teachers are doing with very little support is exactly what is wrong with this system. Perhaps getting disrespected by students and the administration on a daily basis and teaching in a 100 degree classroom and having to buy my own school supplies as well as supplies for my students is my bonus....or maybe, it's hearing from my administration that we have no money to buy paper or computers, but we have enough for two personal assistants for our admins...

I agree with anonymous. if teachers can't even get a cost of living increase then Alonso shouldn't get any type of raise/bonus. personally, it has become much harder to effect change under Alonso's Fair Student Funding model(FSF). I know this model works in theory, but only if you have a principal that knows what they are doing. Sadly, this is not the case at every school. At our school class sizes are up, afterschool programs are cut- and still, because of the hard work of teachers, scores are increasing. I blame our weak union representation for not advocating for the hard working professionals, and instead laying down during negotiations. i'm sure union officials won't read this blog, as they are probably busy planning a retirement party for one of their staffmembers or planning a union sponsored cruise to some enchanted island.

Linda Eberhart should get the raise for what she has done to finally bring some academic order to the math department and curriculum. But instead her budget gets cut year after year. this is your rward for hard work in this city - more reponsibility with less money and help to get it done.

Mike - Where was Linda Eberhart prior to Dr. Alonso's administration? How did she get access to the scope of reform she is now able to oversee? It's precisely examples like putting Linda Eberhart in a district-wide leadership position that make a bonus reasonable.

Reform is hard. Not all of it has worked. A lot has. From the district-wide perspective, not individual schools but the district as a whole, our school system is improving - not just on the basis of test score results. The U.S. Secretary of Education came to Baltimore to celebrate our district's success. Is such a symbol of success irrelevant? There is NO doubt, the staff and students at Abbotson Elementary were the key factors for increasing student achievement. But I think it's unreasonable to say that district-wide leadership had no impact whatsoever.

I found it to be quite a shame that when a community member brought up the bonus issue at the last school board meeting, not a single school board member stood up to endorse & defend the contract that he/she approved.

I think it's worthy to avoid knee-jerk reactions - e.g., bonuses are inherently bad and people generally don't deserve them. There's a whole lot of good happening in the school district, and it's not a coincidence. I pray that one day the district is able to institute a system where strong, engaged, and proven teachers earn a similar bonus for their incredible work (yes, vetern teacher, I think you probably deserve one as well - and one day a teacher contract may just allow that!).

(and now for the intense comments disparaging my thoughts, see below...)

While I think Dr. Alonso has lead a team of people that has done a great job, and might be worthy of a bonus, I think it would be shameful if he accepted any increase. A good leader leads by example. If he is expecting his employees to step up and continue to work hard without salary increases, then he should model that behavior. If he is going to ask employees to tighten their budget belts, then he should do the same. Anything else is an insult to the people around the district who are toiling in the trenches everyday.


I agree with you that Alonso did bring Eberhart into the system, but i know for a fact that he has cut her budget and staff each year which i believe stiffled what could have been even greater gains at more schools.

You say that maybe someday teachers will have a contract that really reflects what they contribute to the gains made by the system. i say, that we have never had a leader more hostile towrd the union when it comes to contract negotiations. Add to this that our union is a joke and seems only to focus on providing social events for their membership, and it is very doubful that our dream of a fair contract will ever be realized.

I think Alonso has a great opportunity, in this time where schools like mine have to choose between having a social worker, and art teacher, or some skeleton of an after-school program, to show that we all must sacrifice. he could do this by refusing part of the bonus and returning that money to an after-school program.

And for the record, I did not agree with the incentives being put in to his contract for the reason that other people do not have the same opportunity. You are right, though, the school board members that did vote for the bonuses cowered when confronted. It's remarkable to me that we put such important decisions in the hands of, what seems to be, a more and more disengaged and disinvested school board members.

If it makes you feel better to believe the reponses are "knee-jerk" so be it, but nowhere in my response did i say that i don't believe in bonuses. It just seems to me that increasingly in our society and in the city, those bonuses only go to those people already making the most money. We will have to agree to disagree on whether that is fair or not fair.
Also, I think you misrepresent my anger. In fact, i think that Alonso has made some bold moves to make the school system stronger. Selfishly, i guess, i just wish each school and each dedicated professional could benfit equally from the moves. I believe it is the Union's responsibility that this happens, and at this job they are a huge failure.

While I do not support everything that AAA has done, a contract is a contract. Whats funny is that some of the teachers who complain about things like this are the first ones to throw up "its not in my BTU contract" when they dont feel like doing something. If we are going to stick to our contract, then we must honor his.

If the former Board Chair has said many times, the Board does not discuss personnel issues in public. Chair Duke will catch on.

There was another interesting statement at the last school Board meeting. Few high school students participated in last year's NAACP ACTSO competition that awards scholarships. There was a request for support from the Board in an effort to increase participation in every high school. The lady who is heading up the effort came in from North Carolina. The current leader of the Baltimore Teachers Union was noted for her hard work in the ACTSO competition BUT that was for her work in Baltimore COUNTY. You guys are screwed.

So does the CEO deserve anything. absolutely... at least out tax dollars will go to enriching a city resident.

I assess the quality of Baltimore public schools this way. I ask teachers and principals, and administrators that I trust. School workers that clearly understand the challenges our schools face and have spent their lives in trying to make the schools better.

These trusted advisors to a person give Superintendent Alonzo a failing grade. Via my outsiders perspective I give him a failing grade on character--the Brian Morris incident being only the latest example of the type of unethical behavior that provides such a poor example for our young people.

As for the bonus...It is yet another opportunity for him to do the right thing. The right thing would be in light of the financial treatment of the teachers he refuse a raise. It is also another opportunity for the school board to do the right thing by denying a raise to a leader that has done so poorly by the most important measure of all the assessment of knowledgeable, loving and competent folk that work for him.

There are many other measures beyond test scores and the assessments I mention above that we should grade him on: how employable are our graduates, how ready are they for college, are the schools clean, are teachers properly equipped, are disruptive children removed from the classroom, do teachers and children feel safe, are principals really empowered to do their jobs, enough said.

If I got a teacher raise,I would donate it to AAA! I think he is doing a terrifc job cleaning up years of waste and worse! He deserves whatever it will take to keep him here and leading!

Alonso should get enough money to buy him a ticket back to NewYork city,He has done nothing but play with numbers the schools and the education system in Baltimore are a mess.

Baltimore Sun- a blog is not a M-F 9:00-5:00 concept! You have really killed a great forum for education in Baltimore City. So very sad!!!!

Linda Eberhart knows nothing on how to move secondary math or reading!! Has anyone seen the HSA scores??? The real work is in our failing middle and high schools!!! All of her effort has been and continues to be limited to elementary. The district is in need of an educator with experience at all levels!!! The numbers don't lie!! Eberhart is not a feather in AAA Cap.

BCPS sent me a letter stating that they would no longer be able to do direct billing of tuition (for teachers who are taking certification classes) because of "budgetary constraints" and they are sorry for any "inconvenience" this may cause.

In other words, if you want to take classes, you will need to come up with the funds to pay for them yourself and wait until the end of the term to file a claim for partial repayment with N. Ave.

B-more mom is right. Now is not the time for taking bonus payments.

Bill, you are dreaming. Hairston accepted quite an increase in salary while he would not even ask for one for his teachers...I only hope that this tenth year will be his last. The emperor indeed wears no clothes.

Alonso thinks he's working hard because he's always on his Blackberry, cajoling principals and tirelessly making speeches about the importance of kids. Last year he cut funding to the Baltimore Kids Chess League, which is maybe the best thing I have going for me as a teacher. It's an incentive for the poorly behaved students, and it's a bonus for the great ones. But I assume that because it's not directly related to standardized tests, provincial Alonso cut funding. Oh, you may say, the economy has forced him to make such a decision. That's an excuse he must love to be able to throw around. Look at the money he has put into adding middle schools to elementary schools.

The chair of the school board, Neil Duke, made it clear that he or the other board members do not publicly comment on personnel issues, of which the Alonso bonus is one. Let's see what happens, and I agree with Bill that reform - real reform - is hard work.

Elisabeth: Do you work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at YOUR job? Do you really think Liz should drop everything else in her life because of your unreasonable expectation for what a blog should be. She has a job (which is writing for the Sun) and I'm sure a family to worry about, too. And sleep. She needs to sleep, too.

Stephanie: As an educator, I do work five days a week and many night and weekend hours but that is not the issue.The Sun has writers and staff all days of the week; fewer than before but still putting out a seven day a week paper. Is Liz the only staff person that can quickly read and post the few submissions that are now submitted? An engaging blog must be timely and hopefully not censored.I mean no disrespect to Liz; the Sun needs to decide how they are going to keep customers. The sorry excuse for a paper (which I still have delivered 7 days a week along with the Wash Post and NY Times) is not cutting it. The blog as it was engaged me and many others who somtimes posted but usually read eagerly. We need that venue,especially in the city.I am frustrated because the blog does not have the vitality it used to have. Sorry, Liz.I know you are short staffed.

CEO Evaluation System Post @ Inside Ed How much of a bonus does Andres Alonso deserve?


201.03 Compensation and Contract Provisions

The Chief Executive Officer is entitled to the compensation and benefits set by the Board. The salary of the Chief Executive officer will be commensurate with ability, experience and prior positions of responsibility. The employment contract shall provide, at a minimum, that continued employment is contingent on demonstrable improvement in the academic performance of the students in the BCPSS and the successful management of the public schools. The initial contract and any renewal may not exceed four (4) years.

201.02 Additional Powers, Duties And Responsibilities

The Chief Executive Officer of the Board carries out the policies, rules, and regulations of the Board, and is charged to develop and implement a thorough and efficient system of education for all students in the BCPSS. The Chief Executive Officer will ensure that all federal and state laws relating to education are understood and put into effect by the staff of the school system and will ensure the adherence to and appropriate application of the Public School Laws of Maryland with their attached bylaws and the rules, regulations, and policies of the Board.

To carry out the duties of the Office of the Chief Executive Officer, State Public Law outlines a broad array of responsibilities and powers that must be administered with total good of the BCPSS as a major priority. The Chief Executive Officer may delegate all duties and responsibility to appropriate staff. Among these responsibilities are:
Administration of oaths to witnesses;
Explanation of the intent and meaning of applicable laws, policies, and regulations and subject to appeal to the Board, adjudication of controversies and disputes related to them;
Approval and signing of contracts;
Preparation of required correspondence and reports, including all those required by the Federal Department of Education, the State Department of Education, and the Board;
Development of professional and support staff;
Frequent visitation of the schools to improve the overall quality of education;
Continual evaluation of the instructional program;
Preparation and recommendation of curriculum guides, courses of study, and other teaching aids for adoption by the Board;
Provision of lists of textbooks, equipment, and materials needed by the schools;
Preparation and presentation of the annual budget and activities designed to secure the funding for its implementation;
Preparation of the annual State of the Schools address with a detailed evaluation report of the plans and progress of the school system’s future plans;
Preparation and presentation of an annual report on the recruitment, retention and evaluation of qualified and competent teachers, principals and other personnel;
24 Maryland Education Article Section 4-204 and 4-205
Preparation and modification of a Table of Organization as needed and publish it at least annually;
Preparation of a comprehensive annual Facilities Master Plan, containing recommendations for condemnation, remodeling, or repairs to all BCPSS school sites or buildings; and
Provision of clerical help that is needed to issue work permits.

This is the first topic in some time that has generated debate among all parties. I am interested in the division of support for Dr. Alonso. Those who support him do so because they believe that his programs have directly benefited them or their students. The opposite is also true. I do wonder why we haven't seen HSA scores dealt with in the same way that MSA scores were. We have made great strides in the elementary and middle schools. We can't wait for these strides to filter up to high schools. We are losing that battle every day. When will the Board choose a leader who can work at all levels not just the lower grades?

Really, the one decision somebody has to make, if not Alonso, is to separate the stoop kids from the corner kids. "The Wire" elaborates this distinction beautifully. But Alonso has gone on the record and said he doesn't watch "The Wire" because it would prejudice him against "the kids." If he can keep making it seem as though "the kids" are on trial, he will be able to make it sound as though he is their only defender. Alonso--do your homework and get some plain sense.

Elisabeth -

I agree about the vitality of the former blog. I miss it and hope that, even w/cutbacks, the Sun ed team can figure out a way to get it back.

And to Reality Check and your statement that Linda Eberhart knows nothing about how to move secondary math: you are dead wrong on that one.

With limited resources (financial and human) at her disposal, Eberhart has nonetheless chosen to attack aggressively the problem of low mathematics achievement at its source: pre-school and elementary school.

For too long, the focus of elementary math has been on teaching procedures to get right answers, as opposed to teaching for mathematical understanding AND right answers.

Eberhart and her skeleton staff are leading intense efforts at the elementary level to retrain teachers in proper mathematics assessment as well as teaching methods; they are seeking to hire ouststanding math educators; and most important - PD is designed to build mathematics content knowledge among elementary and middle school math teachers.

Just that last thought alone should help explain why high school math achievement is at such a dismal level. Far too many teachers at the elementary and middle school level lack the math content knowledge to be adequately preparing Baltimore's students for the rigors of high school math.

I do not work inside the system. But from my view just outside, I am convinced that Eberhart's decision to focus resources at the problem's source rather than its result is the proper stance for the sake of our students' futures.


It doesn't seem to me that the elementary/middle school I work at has a any teachers who lack the content knowledge to teach math. Something else, something completely unrelated to pedagogy, is going on. Eberhart is great. But her ideas need the foundation of a sound disciplinary system. Now that elementary school students are exposed to the flailing incompatibilities of middle school students (at newly formed K-8 schools), schools are even more at a loss at how to handle unspeakably troublesome situations. The schools, in my view, have become more chaotic than the streets outside them.

Stephanie...reality check...I never mentioned Linda. I am one of her biggest fans. And Alsonso did not bring her "in".She has been working math wonders for years in the system AAA just better utilized her.She can not be the be all/end all. Get a secondary equivalent.

Give it to him...Hairston gets paid more than him and believe me, HE IS NOT WORTH IT!

Bonus for doing your job, what are we getting for the 230,000 dollars we are already paying this guy.If the kids are out performing kids around the state then and only then should they be handing out a bonus.

Alonso also appears ready to interact more with the business and nonprofit communities -- and seek their help. He said he'd liked to establish a mentoring program for principals to gain insight on business management from local companies. He should follow contract anyway.

Andres Alonso is doing so much effort for his Baltimore school.He is really doing hard work for school and get interest in all activity of the students.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Please enter the letter "i" in the field below:

2011 Valedictorians and Salutatorians
Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
Education news
• InsideEd's glossary of education jargon

School closings and delays's school closings database is designed to provide up-to-date, easy-to-access information in the event of inclement weather.

Find out if your school is participating and sign up for e-mail alerts.
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Spread the word about InsideEd
Blog updates
Recent updates to news blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Stay connected