Doug's Diggings: School salaries raise plenty of commentsThe topic of school administration salary increases seems to have earned the attention of a lot of people last week. After a one-year freeze, administrators get increases ranging from 4.8 to 5.4 percent in 2010-11 year.
By: Doug Stohlberg, Hudson Star-Observer
The topic of school administration salary increases seems to have earned the attention of a lot of people last week.
After a one-year freeze, administrators get increases ranging from 4.8 to 5.4 percent in 2010-11 year. Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten gets a 5.4 percent increase in 2010-11 and 2011-2012 – a 10.8 percent total over those two years. The numbers make the freeze look like nothing but window dressing.
If the comments on the Star-Observer Web site and the talk around town means anything — most people are not happy with these numbers.
Lord knows, all these administrators are hard workers and probably deserve more money. The problem is, the same could be said for all of us. The difference is that during the past couple of years, the vast majority of us are getting one of the following: no pay increases, pay decreases, pink slips, reduced benefits (401k contributions and health care) and plenty of anxiety about whether or not we’ll have a job in three months.
I’m not sure if the school board or school employees sometimes recognize the plight of non-government workers. Sometimes I think government workers develop the mentality that everyone in the private sector is making tons of money — everyone is the equivalent of a 3M executive or a top attorney.
If there is a problem with the administrative pay increases, it is probably the timing of the whole situation on a number of fronts. First, the country has been going through tough economic times – it’s kind of like the cowboy dumping water from his canteen in the middle of the desert as thirsty cowboys watch. If these changes were announced during good economic times it would have raised a few eyebrows, but not unleashed the wrath of many people who are strong supporters of our schools. The cowboys don’t mind seeing a little water escape when you’re sitting next the watering hole.
Second, this all seemed a bit odd when compared to the timing of the recent school board election. The vote came after the election, but before the new board was seated. I’m sure there are a dozen reasons why it had to happen that way. But the school board should think a little bit about public perception — it doesn’t pass the smell test for most people.
Third, many people are unhappy that many district employees who are much lower on the totem pole have been relieved of their duties and driver’s education was eliminated because of cost factors. Again, maybe all justifiable moves, but it seems to point to a complete lack of perception or empathy from the people sitting on the top.
Fourth, people seem to get tired of this idea that salaries have to be comparable to similar districts, or neighboring districts. It’s a never-ending ladder. Once Hudson raises its salaries, District ABC uses the Hudson model to get higher salaries — when District ABC raises salaries, then Hudson must raise salaries again to be “competitive.” I understand, of course, that we have to be in the ball park, but I think many people believe that the argument is overused.
The bottom line is this. The board has passed these salary increases and the School District of Hudson is still a wonderful place for students to get an education. We hope the economy turns around in the months and years ahead, but the current board may have a tough time burying the public’s uneasiness over what has transpired in recent weeks.