By John Mooney
While new pact reflects lukewarm endorsement of Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson, keeping her in post underscores larger school-reform agenda
Newark schools Superintendent Cami Anderson
Gov. Chris Christie’s renewal of Cami Anderson’s contract to continue running Newark public schools was replete with questions about exactly what it means in relation to school-reform efforts in the state’s largest district – and the governor’s own legacy.
Announced after business hours on Friday – at 5:23 p.m. to be exact – the long-expected renewal was not something the governor and his administration were playing up, to be sure.
The fact that it came with the announcement of a new local “working group” in Newark to advise Anderson was duly noted, too.
And the other strings attached to the new three-year contract, including a nominal raise and a year-to-year review, were not exactly a big vote of confidence for the controversial superintendent.
Nonetheless, Anderson’s new pact is not terribly different from the one she received in headier times in 2011, when she embarked on her much-ballyhooed reform initiative, and it mostly left her powers intact.
She will be renewed at her current pay, with cost-of-living increases that will bring her annual salary to $251,500 next year. She will also be eligible for up to $50,000 in bonuses based on yet-to-be-prescribed criteria.
And while the new local advisory group – its members have not been named — will have the immediate task of reviewing Anderson’s “One Newark” school reorganization plan for the district, the fact is that there isn’t much time to revise it before its launch in September.
State Education Commissioner David Hespe, who was at the center of the contract negotiations, wasn’t available for comment this weekend, leaving it to others to speculate about his motives and thinking.
But most agreed the timing of upcoming changes in the district under Anderson’s reorganization plan left a narrow window for a leadership change at this point.