AUGUSTA — Superintendent Cornelia Brown has joined the city’s school principals in getting performance-based financial incentives added to her contract.

Brown’s contract, in an agreement approved unanimously Wednesday by the Board of Education, has been tweaked to include incentives that would pay her more money if Augusta’s students improve their performance on standardized tests.

The deal mirrors a similar provision in the recently approved contracts of school principals and other administrators that will award them financially if their students do better academically.

Brown will get bonus pay if Augusta’s students improve their performance on standardized tests used statewide, and also for every school that makes or meets “adequate yearly progress” as determined by the state Department of Education.

The incentives are capped at $4,000 for the year.

School officials said they would also be open to considering similar incentives based on student performance for teachers. But Augusta’s teacher contracts aren’t up for renewal until next year, Brown said.

Board of Education member Susan Campbell, a leader in the contract negotiations, said board members would be open to looking at incentive pay for teachers and any other contracts where they would be appropriate.

Board Chairman William Burney said Thursday incentives based on student achievement appear to be gaining momentum in schools.

Brown’s contract was, and is, good through 2013. But the board and Brown reopened talks this year and agreed to include the incentives.

Brown, in the agreement reached this week, agreed to pay a larger share of her health insurance costs, but also received a 1 percent pay increase. The 1 percent salary increase, Burney noted, is in line with other raises granted to school employees.

Brown, who makes about $100,000 per year, had her salary frozen, at her request, at the same level for the last two years. She is in her 13th year as superintendent of the city’s schools.

She said the average tenure for superintendents in one school system is four years in Maine, and two-and-a-half years nationally.

“I’m starting my 13th year here,” Brown said. “That speaks to the supportive nature of the school board, the community, and the work we’ve done here in Augusta. It’s a good place to work and live.”

The contracts containing incentives for Brown and school principals are good for one year, which Burney said gives the schools an opportunity to try the new system out.

Campbell said the incentives could be a way to tie performance to pay. Such incentives are sometimes offered by private businesses, but they have sparked controversy whenever they’re mentioned in national education reform debates.

Gains in student performance will be measured by the New England Common Assessment Program test results in grades 3-8, and SAT scores in grade 11.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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