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Originally published Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 9:40 PM

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Seattle schools, principals reach tentative 3-year contract

Seattle Public Schools and its principals association have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract that includes raises and a new evaluation system based, in part, on student achievement.

Seattle Times education reporter

Seattle Public Schools and its principals association have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract that includes raises as well as a new evaluation system that will be based in part on student achievement.

Principals approved the contract Wednesday. The Seattle School Board is scheduled to vote on it at its meeting Feb. 2.

The contract mirrors parts of the district's new contract with teachers, approved last fall. For the first time, student performance will play a role in how teachers and principals are evaluated and paid.

It also calls for all principals to get raises of at least 1 percent, as long as the new evaluation system is developed by April 1. In addition, as of Jan. 1 this year, elementary- and middle-school principals will receive an additional 1.5 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Principals in the Seattle district now make $100,750 to $127,427 a year, according to the district's website.

Patricia Hunter, president of the Principals Association of Seattle, said the new contract represents a new chapter of accountability for principals.

"It would be nice to say that this is the end, but it's really kind of a new beginning," Hunter said. "We're looking at incentive pay and we're looking at a new evaluation tool, so there's a lot of work ahead of us."

Just how the new evaluation system will work has not yet been finalized, she said. It is to be developed by April 1.

What is clear: Principals will be eligible for bonuses for growth in student achievement. They also can receive pay incentives for agreeing to work in low-performing schools, or mentoring principals in those schools.

Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, in a prepared statement, said the new contract will help strengthen leadership in the city's schools.

The total cost of the three-year contract is estimated at $1.2 million.

The district said the raises will ensure that Seattle's elementary- and middle-school principals will be paid close to what their counterparts receive in surrounding districts. The district said the raises also are designed to reflect the extra work principals must do to carry out teachers' new contract.

The teachers' contract includes a new, tougher four-tier evaluation system for teachers in which those rated "basic" or "unsatisfactory" are at risk of dismissal.

If a teacher's students show low academic growth, that will trigger a closer look at whether that teacher needs to be on an improvement plan.

If growth is high, teachers can apply for one of a number of "career ladder" positions that give them more responsibilities to mentor or assist their peers, and a stipend to do so.

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