No raise, contract extension for superintendent

Nov. 21, 2013 @ 11:27 PM

The Durham Public Schools Board of Education on Thursday opted against granting a raise to Superintendent Eric Becoats. They also chose not to extend his contract beyond 2016.

Board members met behind closed doors to complete its annual evaluation of Becoats, who has been under fire in recent months for inappropriate use of an activity bus and questionable use of a district-issued credit card.

School board chairwoman Heidi Carter announced that the board had completed Becoats’ evaluation and decided not to “extend his contract” or give him any performance-based raise.

Becoats noted that the board used a new evaluation instrument this year, and that there was disagreement about performance measures.

He also said he agrees with the board’s decision not to give him a raise because teachers are also not receiving raises from the state.

After his last evaluation in 2012, the board voted to unanimously to extend his contract until 2016.

Becoats did not join the board during its latest deliberation.

He initially went into closed session with the board and other staffers to discuss another matter covered under the state’s Open Meeting Law, but emerged with staffers a short time later, leaving the board to discuss his evaluation. 

He was asked to rejoin the board shortly after 9 p.m., and reemerged alone a 9:25 p.m.

In March, Carter told The Washington Post that she believed Becoats, who was a finalist for superintendent of Prince George’s County Public Schools, is engaged, hard working and willing to think creatively to address the school district’s challenges.

Carter also noted the contract extension and “incremental improvements in test scores and graduation rates.”

The board began its evaluation last week. Under district rules, it is required to evaluate Becoats in October. It was late doing so, however, because of the delay in receiving state accountability data and scores used in the evaluation process. 

The data showed only 34 percent of students proficient in the latest round of state testing under the new Common Core standards, a drop of more than 20 percent over the previous school year.

Other districts struggled similarly under the new rigorous tests and many of them saw similar decreases in test scores over the previous year.

Becoats’ evaluation came amid a rough patch in his tenure. Last month, Becoats’ district-issued credit card was terminated after The Herald-Sun found he racked up more than $20,000 in charges over a 12-month period.

In June, Becoats found himself in hot water for hiring a school bus driver and a school system activity bus to take family and friends to private events, including a trip to The Streets at Southpoint.

He received a reprimand from the board for violating board policies and state law regarding the use of school activity bus, although the board found he did not intend to violate the policy or law.