The duties and responsibilities of the Superintendent of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District read like something from a book if that book were titled, “A Guide to Squishy Duties and Responsibilities for School Superintendents.”

The duties and responsibilities section of the contract is so vague and so devoid of any metrics or accountability that I am safe to state that I could do this job and you could, too.

Here are the duties and responsibilities from the contract of 2015.  See for yourself:

Superintendent Duties

Notice the language:

Overseeing… Working cooperatively… Providing timely data… Recommending policies… Ensuring that…Evaluating employees… Establishing and implementing a process… Providing leadership… And so on.

It’s that “leadership” one that gets me. What a hoot.

Given these nonspecific duties and responsibilities, it’s no wonder that the board (save Trustees Barto and Anderson) has voted to give the super tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses in the form of a tax-deferred annuity of his choice. It’s not hard to master duties and responsibilities when they don’t hold you accountable for the big stuff.

I know what you’re thinking… “Gee, Steve, what should the super’s duties and responsibilities include?”

I’m glad you asked. Here are a few:

  • Achieve a XX% district-wide increase in CAASPP scores
  • Reduce the overall budget by no less than XX% while maintaining no less than the existing academic performance.
  • Score a XX or above on an annual satisfaction survey of teachers and classifieds.
  • Restructures district transparency policies to the extent that the district receives a Sunny Award (national transparency award) from Public CEO. (The city of Costa Mesa received the award a few years ago.)
  • Something tied to a reduction in district hate incidents
  • Something tied to the management of a charter school or schools

Oh, and here’s another thing… Tell the super that the days of an “evergreen” contract (automatic annual renewal) are over. That should have happened a long time ago.

Amazing things occur when an employee’s job depends on actual performance metrics. All of a sudden, you see this wonderful thing called “progress.” But that won’t happen here until the school board stops pretending that everything is just fine and decides to let the super’s contract run out.

Everything is not fine. In fact, things are worse than I’ve ever seen them and I’ve been reporting on this stuff for about 20 years.

Oh, and in case you’re skeptical of all of this because the contract in question is from 2015, not to worry: It doesn’t change. The only thing that changes, with a few minor exceptions, is the compensation.

Here’s the entire 2015 contract and the addendum (that’s “extension” to you and me):

Navarro contract 2015

Steve Smith