As has been mentioned here a few times in recent weeks, the board tomorrow will rubber stamp the third raise in two years for Supt. Navarro. He will also get a contract extension through 2019 even though his current contract doesn’t expire for another seven months.

Navarro’s third pay raise in two years will raise his base salary from $230,000 in 2012 to $275,945 effective last July. That is a 20% increase in base pay, compared to the average annual pay increase for the average American, which is about 2.2%.

He is also eligible for a merit/performance salary supplement, based on “… the Board’s evaluation of his performance in accordance with the Board’s priorities as measured by annual Superintendent Performance Evaluation Instrument for the prior year.”

That “Instrument” is a touchy-feely, subjective scale with five degrees of performance, three of which qualify Navarro for more taxpayer dough on top of his 20% pay increase over two years. Should the board determine that his status is “Performance Needs Improvement,” Navarro gets nothing. One would think that in this case the board has painted itself into a corner because there isn’t anyone anywhere who cannot improve his or her performance. I don’t care how well you are doing, there is always room for improvement.

At the top of the list of improvement items is Costa Mesa’s schools. But there is no demand by this weak board for improvement, so the administration is not compelled to do anything except throw some education spaghetti against the wall to see if it sticks. In the case of College Park Elementary, that spaghetti is teaching kids in Chinese.

Then there is the Common Core debacle, which highlighted the low academic bar set by Navarro, who wrote in his “Message From Superintendent Navarro Regarding CAASPP and SBAC Assessment Results” that “The first year’s results of the new statewide testing system are in and we are encouraged.” More bad language usage, yes, but more unsettling is that he is encouraged by the scores.

“Encouraged?” Really??? Encouraged by this?…

  1. 83% of the students at College Park El failed to meet the state Common Core standards for math and 80 failed to meet them for English. At Whittier El, 83% failed both.
  2. Of the 34 schools listed on the state results for the district, at least half of the students in 17 schools failed to meet state standards in at least one subject.
  3. Of the 34 schools, at least half of the students in 13 schools failed to meet state standards in both subjects.
  4. The much ballyhooed attempt to right the ship at Adams Elementary to help attract parents who have defected has failed. Only 22% of the students there met state standards in English and only 33% met the standards in math.
  5. Of the 17 schools that failed to meet state standards in at least one subject, all but two are in Costa Mesa. At Newport Harbor, only 39% of the kids met state standards in English and at Newport Heights El, 49% of the students met state standards in English.
  6. At the four schools I’ve been prodding the district for years to fix – Rea, Whittier, Wilson and Pomona – only 21% met the standards for English and only 20% met them for math.

But this is what passes for acceptable when rewarding the Superintendent with his third pay raise in two years.

Navarro could also improve his performance by improving his command of the language. As I recently reported, the latest weekly “District Office to Staff”(DOTS) memo is so poorly composed that it is an embarrassment to a district that prides itself on its high standards.

But that won’t matter to the board. They’ll give Navarro the highest rating and he’ll get the maximum allowed under the terms of the performance agreement.

Deputy Supt. Paul Reed also gets a raise tomorrow.

But wait, there’s more!

I wrote that the latest poorly composed DOTS memo sounded like a note of desperation. Upon reading it again, and reading certain lines several times, I’m convinced that teacher frustration is boiling over. Realizing that it is dangerous to speak up alone and risk being sent to Siberia, a group of teachers may have expressed their concerns. And if that is true, isn’t that an area in need of performance improvement?

Of course it is. But that won’t matter to the board. They’ll rubber stamp the pay increase and the performance money because that’s the way they’ve always done it – except for the year when ex-Supt. Jeff Hubbard was indicted. There will be no discussion, no request for a strategic, comprehensive turnaround plan for Costa Mesa’s schools, just more praise for the great job he’s doing.

Too bad that teacher compensation isn’t approved the same way. Instead, teachers have to get involved in intense, drawn-out negotiating sessions that seek to hold back everything possible from the people who do the heavy lifting.

But at least the board rubber stamps that final agreement, too.

Steve Smith