Bedden secures $15,000 bonus

Richmond County Superintendent Dana Bedden "reached or made substantial progress" on the goals set by the school board, earning him a $15,000 bonus, according to a statement released Friday afternoon.

Dr. Bedden's contract stipulates that he can earn $5,000 for each of three goals established by the board. With the performance pay, his contract is worth about $230,000. In all, he was given six goals.

His predecessor, Charles Larke, was paid $323,420.14 his last year as superintendent, according to the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts. Dr. Larke's bonuses were automatic as long as he received a satisfactory evaluation.

Dr. Bedden is on vacation and was unavailable for comment.

Alex Howard, the chairman of the board's human resources committee, commended the superintendent for the leadership he demonstrated.

"I was very impressed with his first year," Mr. Howard said. "In order to change this system, it's going to take some hard work and it's going to take some time."

Because it was Dr. Bedden's first year, Mr. Howard said it was premature to hold him to numerical goals. Instead, the board evaluated him on his overall leadership, such as the midyear decision to make Dr. Wayne Frazier the principal of Tubman Middle School. In a few months, the school turned around enough to meet federal standards under No Child Left Behind.

Those are the successes expected, and those are the successes Dr. Bedden can produce, Mr. Howard said.

When the board meets to discuss goals for the coming year, he said the board owes it to taxpayers to set specific numeric benchmarks.

State law allows superintendent evaluations to be confidential. However, Dave Dunaway, the attorney for The Augusta Chronicle , said actions involving taxpayer money must be voted on in public.

The board met twice behind closed doors in July, but didn't return to award the bonuses publicly. If challenged within 90 days, Dr. Bedden's bonuses could be voided, Mr. Dunaway said.

Board attorney Pete Fletcher agreed that financial actions must be taken in public, but he said that in this case there's no need for another vote because the financial incentives already had been publicly approved in connection to Dr. Bedden's contract a year ago.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

THE GOALS

The Richmond County school board evaluated Dr. Bedden, not on numerical goals, but on his leadership.

THE SIX GOALS FOR HIS EVALUATION:

1. Student achievement

2. Systemic improvement

3. Organization structure

4. Human resource management

5. Financial and operational management

6. Community relations


THE INCENTIVE-BASED GOALS:

- Development of a student achievement benchmark system

- Involvement in community relations

- Development of a process to improve department and school performance


SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT ADDS TO HIS EARNINGS

During his first year as Richmond County schools chief, Dana Bedden received the maximum annual pay outlined in his three-year contract.

$185,000 - Guaranteed base pay

$215,000 - Base pay plus fringe benefits, annuities and travel allowances

$230,000 - Maximum value, with incentive pay