Fiscal responsibility is the buzzword in public school finance these days. Boards are using it, parents are using it, and community members are using it. However, when it comes to salaries, benefits, and perks, there’s a fine line between fiscal responsibility and fair compensation. The state of the economy is obviously a major factor. Attracting the best people is also important. The question of fairness also comes into play when you look at the differences between management and the workforce. Management salaries are usually higher, of course, but better raises and benefits shouldn’t necessarily be reserved for the top people in the organization. Teachers are and always will be the engine that drives any school system. They should be recognized as such.
We know the salary history of the district teachers, as well as what their raise and benefits package will look like for the next 3 years. A recent FOIA has produced the same information for the administration. Raises at the director, principal, and assistant principal level over the last few years have generally been between 2% and 4.5%. The exception is the current year. Most administrators’ salaries were frozen at 2010-2011 levels. There are a couple of exceptions that are puzzling, but generally I give the Board credit for fairly applying the salary freeze to the entire workforce. Remember, the teachers did not advance to the next salary step this year.
The benefit and perk data is somewhat limited, but what is clear is that the administration’s benefits are clearly superior to the teachers. Data obtained from the district website (which was subsequently removed) shows district contributions to healthcare, retirement (403b plan, which is above and beyond a normal pension), and tuition reimbursement. While administrator contracts call for a cap of $5,000 towards doctoral programs, this data shows that 11 administrators received $15,000 towards their program. Benefits at this level are clearly not available to teachers. Teachers aren’t even reimbursed for business travel.
The Board will be voting on administrator contracts at the June board meeting. I look forward to seeing the Board exercise continued fiscal responsibility when it comes to the administrators’ salaries, benefits, and perks. I would welcome a raise and benefits package more in line with the current teachers’ contract. The days of big benefits and cushy perks are over (at least until the next bubble) so let’s level the playing field and use those assets to improve our schools and educate our children.