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Tisha Edwards signs $225,000 contract as interim CEO

Tisha Edwards, city schools CEO Andres Alonso's chief of staff of four years, signed a $225,000 contract Tuesday that will go into effect when she begins her term as interim CEO of the Baltimore City school system July 1.

According to the contract, released Tuesday, Edwards will serve in the role from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014 while the city school board -- which she will now report directly to -- conducts a national search for a permanent superintendent.

Edwards will make $225,000 over the length of the contract, roughly $50,000 more than her current salary as second-in-command, and $5,000 less than the contract Alonso signed when he came to the district in 2007. The schools chief left at a salary of $260,000, in addition to supplemental income.

In addition, Edwards will receive the same perks as the outgoing schools chief, whose term officially ends June 30, such as a car and reimbursement for travel and other expenses related to her duties. She also receives 48 leave days per year, of which she can cash out 39 in a lump sum payout at the end of the year.

While there are no bonuses outlined in the contract -- Alonso was able to earn up to $10,000 in bonuses annually -- the contract says that the board can adjust her salary, but not make it less than the one agreed upon. An annuity of 30 percent of her income will be contributed to a retirement account.

Under the new contract, Edwards will be responsible for "carrying out the managerial and administrative responsibilities for the care and maintenance of the school system," including organization and appointment of staff, consulting with the Parent and Community Advisory Board, and submitting a year-end report that includes financial statements and progress of a transition plan by Dec. 31.

By July 15, Edwards and the board will meet to develop a "communications protocol," the contract says.

The contract alludes to the autonomy Edwards' administration will have -- a demand that Alonso made upon his arrival in the district. 

It states that "individual board members agree that they will not give any direction to any staff member regarding the management of BCPSS or the solution of specific problems and that they shall refer all personnel appeals, complaints and other communications regarding the administration of BCPSS to the [interim CEO] for investigation ..."

Edwards' performance will be evaluated by the following: demonstrable improvement in academic performance, successful management of the school system, progress in reaching the district's goals, a successful budget and "fiscal recovery plan," promoting community involvement and satisfaction among school communities, and maintaining, improving and expanding programs and services of the school system.

The contract also stipulates that the board must inform Edwards if she is a permanent selection for the CEO position. The board also agreed to to give her two days' notice before publicly announcing the CEO. If a selection is made before her contract expires, she will receive her salary and benefits. 

Edwards' contract can be terminated if the board finds cause for dismissal, which the contract says cannot be arbitrary or capricious. She can also resign or leave under mutual agreement and still receive full salary and benefits.

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