Teachers unhappy with administrators’ pay raises | SierraSun.com

Teachers unhappy with administrators’ pay raises

Renee Shadforth, Sierra Sun

Just as next year’s salary negotiations have begun, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District teachers and staff have expressed discontent with decisions made by the school board and administrators.

In the last two weeks, more than 60 school district employees attached their names to two letters sent to the Sierra Sun, regarding concerns over $24,000 in salary increases for the district’s top three administrators, while teachers accepted 0 percent salary increases due to the statewide budget crisis, according to the commentaries.

Superintendent Dennis Williams said the salary increases occurred months ago – when he was hired in May 2003 – followed by raises for Assistant Superintendent of Business Ralph Johnson ($6,000 salary increase) and Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Jo Lynn Wilson ($12,000 salary increase).

“I met with the union leadership,” Williams said in response to the letters, “and I said ‘This is not helping the situation. I’m asking you to give me a chance, as the new guy, to work with the board and work with the unions to try and change the way we have done business in the past.'”

Part-time teacher Lynn McKechnie – who has worked in TTUSD for 22 years, two years as a teachers union negotiator – said school district staff didn’t react to the administrative raises initially because teachers couldn’t believe it actually happened. Now, McKechnie said, teachers want to speak up.

“The teachers are not angry and frustrated with little nit-picky things,” she said in a phone interview this week. “It’s a big thing, and it’s the direction this district is headed that we’re really worried about.”

Vicki Decker, who has taught in the school district for 15 years, said she fears the students and educational programs will suffer as a result of decisions made by administrators.

“What I’m feeling is that the district office and the board are not necessarily advocates for children – that more often than not, cuts are made where children are affected the most,” Decker said.

Alaina Reichwald, a Truckee parent with a child in kindergarten, said if the teachers’ concerns are true, “It kind of sickens me that money that could be used for education is being funneled into the TTUSD administration.”

She said she’d like to see more parents get involved.

“It’s important for parents to take matters into their own hands and educate themselves as to what’s going on in the school district,” Reichwald said.

Barbara York, a representative of non-credentialed TTUSD staff with the California School Employee Association, said she is in agreement with the teachers who submitted letters to the Sierra Sun. If there’s no increase for salaries and district contribution to benefits, she said, many employees may have to leave TTUSD.

“Everyone has worked hard to make the cuts we had last year,” York said in a phone interview. “Everyone is dedicated to operations in the district. We want to know the administrators respect that enough to maintain our standard of living here. Many employees have had to leave the area.”

School board President Cindy Gustafson said the district is conducting a study to see how TTUSD top three administrators compare to other administrators locally and in other school districts in the state.

“The board is committed to being accountable to the community about the salaries,” Gustafson said. “I stand by where we’re at, but we’re looking into it.”