After protracted review, the New Beginnings Schools Foundation this week approved a three-year contract for its chief executive officer, Sametta Brown, a package heavy on incentive pay meant to encourage greater accountability.

On top of a base salary of $140,000, Brown will be able to earn up to $35,000 by reaching specified performance benchmarks. The base pay amounts to a raise of about 8 percent raise.

Brown has been retained month to month since her initial one-year contract — for $130,000 — expired in October 2013, board chairman Ramsey Green said, noting that the Brown’s compensation falls in the median range for heads of charter school networks in New Orleans.

Green said the board wanted Brown’s new three-page contract, with its two pages of designated goals, to be much more specific and narrow than her initial one-page contract.

“This is hitting the reset button on the leadership at New Beginnings,” Green said.

The board decided to give Brown a raise in a way that would hold her accountable for the four-school network’s performance, Green said.

The incentive pay — up to an additional 25 percent of the salary — can be earned by meeting goals in academics, finance, and a third category that combines human resources and staff development. Each category has its own subset of goals and a corresponding percent of incentive pay.

For the 2014-15 school year, Brown’s performance goals are divided as follows:

  • 12 percent for academics

  • 8 percent for finance

  • 5 percent for human resources and staff development

For example, if under Brown’s leadership, Gentilly Terrace Elementary’s performance score rises to “academically acceptable,” she would earn an incentive equivalent to 3 percent of her salary, or $4,200.

In the financial category, if Brown provides the board with satisfactory monthly financial reports, she is eligible for a 2 percent award, or $2,800.

Why reward execution of what seem like routine job duties?

“I agree that it’s an expectation of a CEO, but I can tell you de facto it isn’t something that’s showing up every month” for the charter management organizations, Green said of the monthly reports.

If it’s something that’s been an issue in the past, Green said, “let’s make it something she’s specifically graded on.”

In human resources, Brown must “ensure that 100 percent of all human resource policies and procedures are identified and completed” to earn a 1 percent award, or $1,400.

Green said he would be surprised but “incredibly happy” if Brown earned all $35,000 in incentive pay.

Her benefits include participation in the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana, a benefit that some charters schools have rescinded due to its growing expense.

In lieu of annual leave, Brown will receive $5,000.

“She gets one payout and the expectation is she’s always available even when she’s on vacation,” Green said.

Green said the board also wanted to protect itself from accrued vacation time piling up, requiring a lump-sum payout.

The New Beginnings network enrolls about 2,000 students at its four charter schools: three elementaries and Lake Area New Tech Early College High School.

Green said the board did extensive research to ensure Brown’s salary is in line with other charter school networks in the city. He said he is happy to be able to tell New Beginnings families and staff that the same leader will be in place for three years.

“A three-year contract after a lot of change at the board level I think is an achievement,” Green said.

“We’re really proud of it.”

Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned...