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Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

For the Record: Principal bonus disparities

 During Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s announcement of performance bonuses for principals at 82 schools, he touted the broad diversity of schools represented as proof that, with good teachers, good principals, and involved parents, all children can learn.

“If you have these three things, every kid regardless of who they are, where they’re from and their background, can succeed in our schools,” Emanuel said.

CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett added: “It does not essentially matter where a child comes from. We cannot change that, but we can change the arena a child comes into.”

In a press release, Emanuel’s office said the scores were calculated based on four factors: improving test scores, raising the percentage of students who graduate and who are ready for college, and decreasing the achievement gap. Principals who met CPS’ bar in two of the factors earned $5,000. Those who showed improvement in three factors earned $10,000.

Principals could have the bonus check made out to themselves or their schools.

Principals at four schools – Chavez, Lowell, Keller Gifted and Lavizzo – received the highest bonus of $20,000 for improving in all four areas.

Even so, not all schools are doing equally well.  Principals at schools with the most low-income students, and those at the most segregated high schools, were less likely to earn bonuses. Principals at schools with more white students were more likely to earn bonuses. (Click here for a list of the bonus amounts principals received.)

A Catalyst Chicago analysis shows that:

*Principals at the elementary schools where fewer than half of students receive free or reduced-price lunches had a 38 percent chance of receiving bonuses. At the other end of the spectrum, principals at elementary schools where more than 95 percent of students are on free and reduced lunch had just a 10 percent chance of getting a bonus.

*Among elementary schools where at least one-fifth of the students are white, almost twice as many principals – 23 percent – received bonuses compared to other elementary schools, where just 12 percent did.

*Principals at high schools where more than 95 percent of students receive a free or reduced-price lunch were a little over half as likely as other high school principals to receive bonuses: 4 percent vs 7 percent elsewhere.

*More than half of all high schools are at least 80 percent African-American or 80 percent Latino students. But just two of the 10 high schools where principals got bonuses fall into this category.

*Gifted and magnet schools make up 12 percent of elementary schools in CPS, but 24 percent of the elementary schools whose principals earned bonuses.

Promising signs in struggling schools

Some neighborhood schools, however, showed promising signs of improvement despite the disparities. In high-poverty Roseland, principals at four schools – three of them neighborhood schools – received bonuses.

They included Lavizzo Elementary, a long-underperforming school which narrowly escaped a turnaround several years ago. But today, that school’s principal, Tracey Stelley, took home a $20,000 bonus. The percentage of students meeting and exceeding state standards on the ISAT composite has increased by nearly 20 points in each of the last two years, to 75 percent today.

In West Garfield Park, principals at six schools earned bonuses. They were among 11 elementary schools in the Garfield-Humboldt Elementary Network who received bonuses, a third of the schools in that network.

One principal at a school for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities, Montefiore, also received a bonus. The percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards on the ISAT composite increased from 8 percent in 2011 to 26 percent in 2012.

Principals at five elementary schools in the wealthier neighborhoods of Norwood Park, where median household income is $64,477, and Forest Glen, where it is $87,394, also received bonuses.

Overall, the 78 elementary schools where principals got bonuses included four turnaround schools, seven charter schools, eight schools with gifted programs, and nine magnets.

The 10 high schools included two charter schools: Young Women’s Leadership Charter School and Noble Street-Chicago Bulls. They also included two selective enrollment schools, Northside College Prep and Whitney Young High School.

Principal recruitment, retention a struggle

Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett told principals gathered at the press conference that “we will continue to do everything we can to support you, retain you.” And turning directly toward them, she added: “You ain’t going nowhere.”

CPS has long struggled with principal retention and quality, and the bonuses are one part of a strategy to improve principal recruitment and training. CPS also began offering $25,000 signing bonuses for out of town principals, but no candidates have received them since the year-long initiative began in March. Officials were aiming to recruit 50 principals through the program.

Starting with this fall’s class of incoming principal candidates, the district also kicked off an effort to improve principal training, called the Chicago Leadership Collaborative.

Stanley Griggs, a bonus winner who is the principal at Owen Elementary Magnet School in Ashburn, says he is not sure whether the bonuses will improve retention.

“It feels great because finally I feel like someone has recognized not only my efforts, but the efforts of my assistant principals, teachers, parents,” he said, adding that the recognition helped him feel energized.

He said the bonuses could make a difference “for some, maybe, (but) for myself, no.”

“I don’t think we do it for the money. It’s in our hearts to do this right for the kids,” Griggs said. But, he added, “It doesn’t hurt.”

This story has been updated to include additional information from CPS, including a list of the specific bonus amounts principals received.


Elementary schools where principals earned bonuses

1.    Demetrius Bunch    ARMSTRONG, L
2.    Estuardo Mazin    BARRY
3.    Sandra Caudill    BELL
4.    Troy LaRaviere    BLAINE
5.    Staci Bennett    BRADWELL
6.    Christopher Brake    BRIDGE
7.    Donald Morris    BURROUGHS
8.    Joe Piela    CHAPPELL
9.    Barton Dassinger    CHAVEZ
10.    Christy Krier    CICS-BUCKTOWN
11.    David Lewis    CICS-WRIGHTWOOD
2.    Jose Barrera    COLUMBIA EXPLORERS
13.    Greg Zurawski    COONLEY
14.    Bud Bryant    CULLEN
15.    Susan Kukielka    DECATUR
16.    Kathleen Hagstrom    DISNEY
17.    Elizabeth Alvarez    DORE
18.    Pamela Creed    DULLES
19.    Chandra Byrd-Wright  DUNNE TECH ACAD
20.    Janice Kepka    EDGEBROOK
21.    Shirley Scott    ELLINGTON
22.    Brian Metcalfe    FIELD
23.    Cynthia Miller    FISKE
24.    Barbara Kargas    GOETHE
25.    Yvette Curington    GOLDBLATT
26.    Donella Carter    GREGORY
27.    James Gray    HAMILTON
28.    Alfonso Carmona    HEALY
29.    Jacqueline Hearns    HEFFERAN
30.    Juliana Perisin    HENDRICKS
31.    Mable Alfred    HIGGINS
32.    Pam Brunson-Allen    HINTON
33.    Matthew Ditto    JACKSON, A
34.    Catherine Jernigan    JENSEN
35.    Alice Henry    JOHNSON
36.    Delena Little    KELLER
37.    Brenda Browder    KELLMAN
38.    Elisabeth Huetefeu    LASALLE
39.    Tracey Stelly    LAVIZZO
40.    Mark Armendariz    LINCOLN
41.    Gladys Rivera    LOWELL
42.    Carolyn Epps    MARCONI
43.    Jo Easterling-Hood    MCDOWELL
44.    Nancy Hanks    MELODY
45.    Julious Lawson    MONTEFIORE
46.    Catherine Reidy    MOUNT GREENWOOD
47.    Sonia Caban    MOZART
48.    Estee Kelly    NOBLE STREET- COMER
49.    Renee Blahuta    NORWOOD PARK
50.    Elias Estrada    ORIOLE PARK
51.    Stanley Griggs    OWEN
52.    Hassan Okab    PECK
53.    Vicky Kleros    PEREZ
54.    Kelly Moore    POE
55.    Angela Johnson-Williams PROVIDENCE - BUNCHE
56.    Pat Baccellieri    PULASKI
57.    Ana Espinoza    SANDOVAL
58.    Isamar Vargas    SAUCEDO
59.    Christine Munns    SAUGANASH
60.    Suzana Ustabecir    SAYRE
61.    Deborah Clark    SKINNER
62.    W. Delores Robinson   SUMNER
63.    Sean Clayton    TILTON
64.    Sabrina Jackson    TURNER-DREW
65.    Molly Robinson    UNO - SANDRA CISNEROS
66.    Joann Lerman    UNO - FUENTES
67.    Martin Masterson    UNO - PAZ
68.    Krish Mohip    WALSH
69.    Relanda Hobbs    WARD, L
70.    Dina Everage    WENTWORTH
71.    Mary Beth Cunat    WILDWOOD
72.    Tamara Littlejohn    WOODSON


High schools where principals earned bonuses

1.    Barry Rodgers    NORTHSIDE COLLEGE PREP HS
2.    Yashika Tippett    AIR FORCE HS
3.    Patty Brekke    INFINITY HS
4.    Chris Jones    MATHER HS
6.    Mary Dolan    RICHARDS HS
7.    Sue Lofton    SENN HS
8.    Todd Yarch    VOISE HS
9.    Joyce Kenner    WHITNEY YOUNG HS

principal_bonus_specifics.xls49 KB


Anonymous wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

not fair--principals need apply only to white or low poverty

schools. right from the start it was known that low poverty schools, except very few, would not get this money--when the really poor ones need it. Even Mr. Griggs school is selective. CPS takes from the poor and gives to the rich.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

Same thing would happen w/ Merit Pay

This goes to show exactly what would happen if Merit Pay was instituted for teachers. Schools already ahead would have advantage, and teachers in low-income schools would have practically no chance. It's always about the social-economic status of the neighborhood - not the teachers or the principals.

Anxious Dad wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

Principal Bonuses

Who is kidding whom?
It is criminal for the principals of two of the best performing high schools in the city to receive monetary gifts for doing their jobs! Both Mr. Rodgers and Ms. Kenner are already paid salaries well into the six figures for doing their jobs. Rodgers and Kenner should donate their money to other less educationally affluent schools in order to bring all schools to the level of their very schools.
Mayor Rahm “Crony” Emanuel ought to get his CEO buddies to give him tens of millions of dollars to provide 10,000 more seats in selective enrollment high schools in order to end the educational apartheid that now exists for a majority of the city’s eighth graders. CPS admits that 16,500 students applied for just 2,800 selective enrollment slots. A paltry 17% were given the opportunity in Mayor Crony’s Chicago to get a world class high school education at one of the ten SEHS’s. (That leaves 83% of the children left behind)
Our seventh and eighth graders are staying up until midnight and in some cases giving themselves ulcers in order to assure earning high grades and high test scores just to have the chance to qualify for the chance to snag one of the highly coveted selective enrollment seats. We are turning our adolescent children into neurotic overachievers before they reach the age of 12.
The solution isn’t to provide economic incentives to educators; the solution is to eliminate the inequities in the education system, both the economic inequities, as well as the educational inequities. Good education should be treated as a civil right!

Jeanne Marie Olson wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

Test In School Principals with Bonuses????

Wait, what? Why are ANY selective enrollment program principals receiving bonuses? That is, quite frankly, ridiculous!

Danny wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

Re: Same thing would happen w/Merit pay

Granted, you will see differences between schools, but you will also see those same differences WITHIN schools that have selective programs. At the high school level, teachers assigned IB/AP/Honors classes would earn the merit pay, while those assigned regular/remedial/inclusion classes would not.

Merit pay is a bad idea all around.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago


Thanks for mentioning the general criteria.

Is it possible for Catalyst to get the CPS data behind the categories for each school?

I would like to see how CPS determined growth in reading, math, improvement in college readiness and closing the achievement gap. What were the ranges? Starting points, median improvement, etc.?

I am surprised to see the Dr. Little received high marks, as she had been the acting principal at Keller for only part of the 2011-12 school year. It would appear almost magical that she could have made strong improvements across all 4 categories in less than the full school year.

It is especially unusual, since she complained to parents at an assembly at the start of the current school year that Keller ISAT scores had declined.

If you could get that data, we would be grateful.

AgainstTheLongestDay wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago


The ISBE website posted school scores today.

AgainstTheLongestDay wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

School scores

Check this website. type in any school name and you can see all the different combinations of scores from spring 2012.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

can't open the site

Did i get the right link? Thanks.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

As a principal in a

As a principal in a low-income school that has significant, albeit modest, growth of over 20 points the last several years, I am embittered by the disregard from CPS. It's just another slap in the face of high-performers who do a great job in spite of poor leadership among Chiefs, the mayor, and central office "support staff."

Anonymous wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

You clearly deserve recognition.

Your kids and teachers are lucky to have you.

Chicago dad wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

Old news, in actuality

This type of disparity has already been seen in other merit pay and test based evaluation systems. It is just further proof of what we already know and have seen. Just another expensive sales pitch for VAM and merit pay, something that there is little actual financial exposure on for school districts as few will qualify for it.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

Agreed--same at our school--this is a very bitter pill to

swallow--in spite of our chief as well-who is bringing our success down as we write! (Please do not capitalize the word chief, not deserving of it.)

Anonymous wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

Keller -- $20,000

Little was acting principal at Keller for only a part of the last school year.

LaTanya McDade, the previous principal at Keller, had raised ISAT scores steadily over the 6 years she was in place. The percentage of kids who exceeded standards rose to the 90s.

Little did nothing new of pedagogical importance during the months she was acting principal. No new technology, no new programs. WIth kids like these, it is very easy for a principal to rest on the children's laurels.

When the Rauners and Pritzkers throw a few million dollars to a pr stunt like this, it aggravates hard-working principals and teachers. And it amazes the parents, who see our local billionaires have decided to reinforce the cronyism and corruption rife throughout CPS central office.

No one believes these bonuses are fair. No one.

If you asked parents, they would want to know the criteria behind the "awards."
They would say they want the "committee" deciding the awards to include parents.
They would say the "committee" should have a deliberative, transparent process.

If you asked parents what the billionaires' money really should have been spent on, they may well have said on the 160 schools without libraries.

But it is campaign season, and CPS children's real needs will not be discussed.

That's how parents think, who are not looking for political gain.

O.T. Bright wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

Merit Pay, Really?

I fail to understand why people who earn 6 figures need "merit pay" to do their jobs. It's interesting how Rahm Emanuel keeps miraculously finding "private donors" to nudge CPS into the corporate model. Maybe more people would go along with "merit pay" if it went both ways -if dead beat principals lost some of their base pay for failing so horribly! Millicent Clyburn (aka Robersone) gets $135,000+ and Bright elementary has been failing since she took the helm. She gets that money for what? For interrupting instruction and screaming at teachers? Rigo Hernandez at Pickard elementary is getting $130,000+ and for what? For making inappropriate remarks about female employee's bodies? The list goes on and on. No wonder CPS is getting desperate, offering 25K signing bonuses for outsiders and "merit paying" principals for doing their jobs!

name withheld wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

What about the special

What about the special schools and early childhood centers? Those principals will never even qualify to be considered for any sort of bonus as their students don't participate in standardized tests.

I guess special needs and pre school students don't matter.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 10 weeks ago

Special needs and early childhood centers

are, in many ways, the most important schools. But the methodology behind the VAM teacher evaluations is suspect.

O.T. Bright Elementary School Parent wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Terrible Principals like Millicent Clyburn at O.T. Bright

Mayor Rahm Emanuel should spend his time fixing the problems at CPS, not wasting his time with gimmicks that only serve to benefit principals at low-minority schools. I wish Rahm Emanuel would investigate why Burnham Anthony Math Science Academy in South Deering has excellent test scores while O.T. Bright Elementary, the school down the street has had such atrocious test scores for the last ten years -since Millicent Clyburn Robersone became principal. Clyburn's bullying of teachers is so bad that teachers transfer out or quit throughout the school year. We get a new assistant principal every year. Mayor Emanuel should give the person who fires bad principals like Clyburn a hefty bonus!

Marcia Williams wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Principals' bonuses

Notice only a handful of charter school principals received a bonus. Interesting.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

since charters select their students-charters should not

have been part of this bonus scheme. Only neighborhood schools should be rewarded for this work. They take all students.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

bonuses for no after school programs?

How can a Principal who does not believe women should be able to work full time - who does not believe in after school programs be given a bonus? He says no money for after for after school programs but spends it on chocolate and puts sports in the morning. Principal Piela at Chappell elementary has suspended and ruined the lives of more kids in one year than kids he has helped. He does not want parental involvement. He forces kids to be in his Alice in Wonderland Play and wear tights. Why does someone like this get a bonus? Is he not aware of the violence in Chicago and need for kids to have something to do after school until their parents get home?

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