By Harry Welty
New Superís Duper Salary
After a decade of getting by on the cheap and paying its school superintendent one of the lowest salaries imaginable for a ďCity of the First Class,Ē the Duluth School Board finally has to ante up more pay. Not surprisingly, letters-to-the-editor complaining about this extravagance are starting to crop up. $130,000 to pay a Superintendent? Whoa Nelly!
Even though the decision to hire the new Superintendent was unanimous three of seven Board members balked at the salary offer. While these Board members may look frugal the Board has little choice. Times have changed.
From about 1990 to 1995 (the
five years before I served on the Board)
The musical chairs in the superintendentís office left the District with a statutory operating debt. (We were bankrupt) Mark cut the budget to the bone and brought sanity to our finances but at a significant cost to his popularity. Teachers might grudgingly concede that austerity was necessary but they didnít have to like it.
Shortly after this (and my
election to the Board) Myles encouraged the Board to take advantage of the
Since the teacherís had four new friends on the Board and were hell bent on a strike it seemed like a bad time to negotiate a large pay increase for Myles whoís contract was up for renewal. When the Boardís negotiating committee played hardball, even before the new board members were seated, Mark announced his imminent retirement. His salary remained modest. Cut to the next Superintendent.
Julio Almanza was in no position to negotiate a big salary when we offered him the reins because he was without a job. He accepted a modest salary and it has remained so for the past eight years. But the playing field has tipped against the School Board.
Until a few years ago state
law capped the salaries of public employees. No one, other than the President
One of my last acts as a School Board member was voting to accept Julioís offer to extend his contract for one year with a pay freeze. At the time I told my old buddy, Tim Grover, one of the Boardís stingiest members, that when the Board replaced Almanza it would have to dig deep.
For the grumblers its worth noting that the new salary is still only two and a half times what our most senior teachers earn. Of course, if the School Board wanted to be penny wise and avoid public criticism they could simply manage our one-hundred-million dollar school district themselves. Hey, the Teacherís Union President once said the only thing a Superintendent does is call snow days. That doesnít sound so hard.
is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at: www.snowbizz.com