HELSTON: Angry about school superintendents getting raises? You're missing the point - InfoNews

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HELSTON: Angry about school superintendents getting raises? You're missing the point

Charlotte Helston is the Vernon reporter for InfoNews.
May 08, 2015 - 8:14 AM

Many reacted with shock when news broke that superintendents in three Okanagan school districts were given raises last year, but I think we might be missing the bigger picture.

What I find more shocking than a superintendent with 30 years of education experience receiving a pay raise — the first for that position since 2006 — is that all other administrative wages remain frozen. Is that not the more astonishing side of this story?

A couple weeks ago, we reported that the Vernon School District is going to make up its $950,000 shortfall by dipping into emergency reserves — emergency reserves! Next year, it doesn’t know what it’s going to do meet another wave of $400,000 in provincial funding cuts. This is, sadly, the kind of thing we’ve become accustomed to. In many ways, I feel we’ve been desensitized to it with year after year of deeper cuts. Budget deficits in the millions are hardly a shock anymore.

You know things have gotten bad when there’s public outcry over a well-earned raise, and simply a shake of the head over yet another budget deficit.

School board trustees knew how it would look to hand out a raise in such trying financial times and I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision. They gave a raise to the only person the provincial government allows them to, and they did it with their district’s best interests in mind. Board chair Kelly Smith said the decision was made to keep Vernon’s superintendent from leaving for a better paying job — a reality an industry faces. They wanted to create stability in this fiscal storm.

The real issue here is not that an employee of our education system got what was probably a fair and well-earned raise, but that an entire workforce of administrators — including principals and vice-principals — have had their pay frozen since 2009. I can’t think of anyone that doesn’t believe in a healthy raise.

It’s unfortunate these are the cards our school districts have been dealt, where they’re criticized and criminalized for acknowledging hard work and experience with a good old fashioned raise.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

—This story was edited at 10 a.m. May 8 to say salaries for administration staff have been frozen since 2009, not 2011 as previously published.   

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