Home News Local News Vote on RISD admin salaries causes some ‘heartburn’

Vote on RISD admin salaries causes some ‘heartburn’

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Dr. Ann Lynn McIlroy addresses assistant superintendents Brian Byrd and Chad Cole (not pictured) on Tuesday night at the school board meeting. Mona Kirk and Alan Gedde, school board president and secretary, are seated next to McIlroy on the dais. (Alison Penn Photo)

The Roswell Independent School District (RISD) school board on Tuesday voted to approve a new salary schedule for administrators after multiple members of the board expressed concerns about the significant increases compared to the salary schedule for teachers.

RISD passed a salary schedule in May for teachers and the RISD board asked for a salary schedule to be developed for administrators. Chad Cole, superintendent of finance and operations, said the district budget allocates 85 to 90 percent for salaries.

Board President Mona Kirk asked if the new salary schedule for administrators would keep those salaries as 8 percent of the budget; Cole said he did not have an answer at this time.

Superintendent Dr. Ann Lynn McIlroy said $726,150 was the cost of benefits for all RISD employees and staff.

The final vote Tuesday was 3-2. Dr. Kathleen Pittman, Board Secretary Alan Gedde and Vice President Ruben Sanchez voted in approval, while Kirk and James Edwards cast dissenting votes on the measure.

Prior to the final vote, Kirk made a motion to table the salary schedule until more answers could be given and interested parties could give their input. Board member Edwards seconded the motion but it failed 3-2.

Kirk compared her reaction to the administrative salary schedules to “heartburn” and said the divide between the teachers and administrators “really hurt” to examine. Gedde and Sanchez said their hearts had skipped a beat in reaction to the salary schedule. Edwards said he had no comment during the discussion and Pittman showed support for the salary schedules.

Kirk said she used her past experience as an elementary and secondary principal when looking at the salary schedules. She argued that high school principals worked from 7:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. or later, while elementary principals worked only until 5:30 p.m., and received the same daily rate.

“Our teachers got a 4 to 4-and-a-half percent average raise but our administrators are getting a 14 percent average raise,” Kirk said. “Fourteen percent — where is the equity? I value our administrators. I value our teachers. I just think we’re doing our teachers an injustice when we put such a heavy scale on administrators.

“I can tell you the public is going to be looking at this, board members, because they already think we are top-heavy. So when they see this 14 percent on an average increase to salaries they’re going to be knocking on our doors.”

Sanchez said he understands that the district is trying to give everyone a raise with “honest effort.” He said the administrators were without an increase for 10 years with a small exception when the insurance increased. When he looked at level-three teacher salary schedules last month, he said there was a “pretty minimal incremental increase amongst the staff.” He said the supervisor/principal scale was not as “aggressive” but saw a significant increase with the assistant superintendents’ salaries. Sanchez said he wanted no animosity among the district’s people.

Sanchez said there seemed to be no right answer on the matter and it was a double-edged sword. He asked Cole if the incremental division between teachers and administrators could be reviewed again, and asked if the district would have more growth in the future. Though the schedules can be reexamined, Cole said the district will have to be “very controlled” with the budget for next year, and there is “no wiggle room at this point” for more money in the budget for fiscal year 2019.

Cole said representing the financial arm of the district he felt “comfortable” that payroll is covered until the end of this year, with the exception of any unbudgeted or unforeseen costs.

McIlroy said the new salary schedule would create a real career ladder and inspire teachers to consider an administrative position later in their careers. McIlroy said the new salary schedules would address pay equitability based on experience for certified and noncertified staff.

“My goal and my vision for RISD is to create a world-class educational organization,” Dr. McIlroy said. “Research proves time and time again that instructional leadership is the No.1 cause for student achievement gains. It’s just like great teachers in the classroom — they’re going to move more kids up to the bar that you set. An instructional leader does that with their teachers, and the more teachers that we can get with great instructional leaders, the more our students are going to achieve.”

When Kirk asked who developed the administrative schedules, McIlroy said that she, Brian Byrd, assistant superintendent of Human Resources, and Cole did. Kirk said the board in the past requested practitioner representation in the development of any salary schedules.

Cole said he would not give an opinion about the schedules since he would potentially benefit. Cole said the district has invested $3 million total for all of the district’s salaries and that the district has a sufficient and solid cash balance.

Cole also said RISD’s strong AA bond rating was because of “sound financial controls” and comparable to Albuquerque and Santa Fe’s public schools — though Roswell does not have Albuquerque’s voluminous tax base or Santa Fe’s wealthier tax base.

Gedde said he looked at the schedules and had some feeling for those who would not see much of an increase and for those who would. He also said he had faith the district was doing the right thing.

“You can’t pay our teachers enough or our administrators enough because they go beyond what hours of those days are,” Pittman said. “I do believe that it’s only commonsense that we have a hierarchy in salaries.”

Kirk showed concern about the daily rate for teachers and she and McIlroy went back and forth on the correct daily rate figures. Some audience members vocally displayed their feelings and shook their heads in disapproval until the correct figures were reached.

Kirk said she wanted equitable pay based on various teachers’ and administrators’ service and the divide for teachers was increasing.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.