EAA chancellor to make $325K a year under new contract

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Veronica Conforme, newly hired as the permanent chancellor of the Education Achievement Authority, will be paid $325,000 a year under a contract approved Tuesday by the district's board of directors.

On an annual basis, the amount is unchanged from her monthly salary — $27,083.33 — as interim chancellor of the state-created alternative district that consists of 15 former Detroit public schools. It's also the same salary paid to former Chancellor John Covington.

As part of her contract, Conforme requested the board deduct $25,000 to be paid to philanthropic organizations of her choice. The contract states the organizations are committed to improve the overall well-being of children and families in Detroit.

"It is admirable and commendable for the chancellor to donate such a large amount of money to charity at her own request," said EAA spokesman Mario Morrow.

Conforme, 41, who was named interim chancellor in June after Covington resigned, was hired for the permanent post last week. Her contract runs until June 30, 2018, and calls for an automatic one-year renewal unless the executive committee notifies her otherwise at least six months in advance.

The pact calls for Conforme to receive annually 15 sick days, 20 vacation days, 7 percent of her base salary into a retirement account, $5,000 for life insurance and an auto allowance of $8,000. The district also will pay her $25,000 toward relocation and temporary housing.

"After the initial contract year, the chancellor will designate and determine the amount of voluntary reduction from her base annual salary which shall be applied to philanthropic organizations and/or efforts within the State of Michigan during the remaining term of this Employment Contract," the agreement states.

EAA parent Doretha Brown, who has four children at Nolan Elementary, exclaimed, "That's wonderful," when she learned of Conforme's decision to donate to charity. She said she is pleased the contract has been finalized.

"I feel good about her because she's somebody who really wants to help, not only students, but parents as well," said Brown, 37. "She brings a positive presence, and we need someone who really wants to be there for you."

Conforme, a former chief operating officer of the New York City Public Schools, is trying to fix the system's academics and finances.

The EAA has struggled with low test scores, falling enrollment and funding shortfalls. Last month, the district estimated this fall's enrollment at 6,500.