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Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist listens during a community meeting last Thursday at McLain High School concerning the school district’s coming $20 million shortfall. She earned a $25,000 bonus for her retirement savings plan based on the passing grade she received on her annual evaluation Monday night. CORY YOUNG/for the Tulsa World

Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist earned a $25,000 bonus for her retirement savings plan based on the passing grade she received on her annual evaluation Monday night.

School board members met in executive session for more than four hours during a special meeting to complete the final steps of the revamped evaluation process for the previous school year. Last week, they filled out individual assessments of the superintendent’s fourth-year job performance as required by an evaluation instrument approved two years ago.

The board initially reviewed the individual assessments results, as well as Gist’s self-evaluation, without her present. She later joined the executive session to discuss results, provide feedback and discuss next steps, according to the evaluation instructions.

Gist’s contract guarantees her a $25,000 incentive stipend following the conclusion of the review if she earns a qualifying score. For the first time since she became superintendent, that bonus is being paid to her retirement savings plan.

During her first two years here, Gist received and donated the bonus to the Foundation for Tulsa Schools to support local teachers. She received a three-year extension in 2017, and her contract was amended to clarify that the bonus would not be available in 2018 due to the district’s paying her an additional $25,000 tax-sheltered annuity that year.

The $25,000 bonus became available as part of this year’s evaluation for 2018-19. When earned, it will be paid to the tax-sheltered annuity for the remainder of her extended contract.

The evaluation instrument for the superintendent was updated in 2017 to make the school board’s feedback more current and ongoing throughout the year. Gist’s evaluations with the board now occur every quarter instead of once a year.

The conclusion of the annual process also was moved from June to September so board members can analyze data that becomes available in the fall to make their final assessments. The lone exception to the change will be in 2021, when her contract is set to expire in June.

The implementation of the new evaluation method went much more smoothly this year than last year, when technical hiccups caused a monthlong delay in determining the final grade. The results were not available until late October.

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Kyle Hinchey 918-581-8451


Twitter: @kylehinchey

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