JERSEY CITY - The Jersey City Board of Education last night approved four changes to the contract offered to incoming superintendent Dr. Marcia Lyles.
Such changes were needed to win the support of four board members who refused to vote in support of the contract on August 15.
The school board must still officially ratify the full contract, which can only be done after Lyles and Hudson County education officials have approved the revised agreement.
Among the changes made at a special meeting of the board held on Aug. 22: A termination of employment clause was added; the dates by when the board will consider merit pay for Lyles were changed; and performance criteria was clarified. In addition, one aspect of Lyles' job description - which had been lifted from "boilerplate" superintendent contract language given to the board by the state - was removed from Lyles' job description.
The resolution approving these changes passed the school board by a vote of 8-0. One seat on the school board is currently vacant.
The changes must now be sent to Lyles' attorney for her approval. If she accepts the changes, the amended contract will then be sent to the Hudson County Superintendent of Education for his approval and will then come back to the Jersey City Board of Education for formal ratification.
"I hope to be able to put this on the agenda next week for our next board meeting," said Board of Education Chairwoman Suzanne Mack. "If we can do that, then Dr. Lyles will start the day after Labor Day."
The Board of Education's next regularly scheduled monthly meeting is set for Thursday, August 30 at 6 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. School, at 886 Bergen Ave. The 2012-2013 school year begins September 5.
Lyles had hoped to start her new job on August 20. But last week, on August 15, the eight current members of the school board failed to adopt the contract offered to Lyles by a split vote of 4-4.
The four board members who voted against the contract - Marilyn Roman, Vidya Gangadin, Sterling Waterman, and Angel Valentin - questioned why the contract did not include detailed "grounds for termination" and did not spell out goals and objectives the board expected Lyles had to meet. Some board members also questioned Lyles' benefits package.
Lyles is set to receive an annual salary of $231,000. The contract also allows for the possibility of merit pay on top of this base salary. This merit pay would be equal to "up to 14.99 percent of [Lyles'] annual base salary," according to the contract. She will also have full-time access to a district-owned or leased car, which she can also access for personal use.
The district is also giving her a $10,000 relocation allowance.
Mack told the Reporter that the revisions approved Wednesday night "do not change the fiscal impact of the contract."
Lyles, who last school years was the superintendent of the Christina School District in Delaware, is relocating to Jersey City this weekend.
Although she has not officially started her position, Lyles has already met with each member of the school board individually and has also met with several senior administrators individually as well. - E. Assata Wright