PORTLAND, Ore. – Nobody likes being played for a fool, and that’s just what Oregon’s Education Establishment has done to state taxpayers.
Less than a year after lawmakers “invested” $100 million more in Oregon’s K-12 school children, leaders with Portland Public Schools have handed an adult employee – Superintendent Carole Smith – a 28 percent pay raise, OregonLive.com reports.
Smith’s salary will jump from $193,000 to $247,000 a year and her district-provided “tax-sheltered monthly payments” will shoot up from $1,500 to $2,500, the news site adds.
Smith’s three-year deal makes her the highest-paid K-12 superintendent in the state by at least $45,000.
Portland school board members were split on whether Smith deserved such a huge raise.
The five board members who voted for the raise pointed to Smith’s longevity with the district, her “laser-like focus” on improving student achievement, and her leadership in forgoing raises when the district was struggling financially, OregonLive.com reports.
All that happy talk overlooks the district’s embarrassing graduation rate (67 percent) and its high schoolers’ dismal proficiency rates in math (69 percent) and writing (65 percent).
Two board members opposed the raise, but for different reasons.
“I feel like this deal doesn’t represent the best deal that we can negotiate on behalf of our taxpayers,” said board member Tom Koehler.
Board member Steve Buel, who is a favorite of the local teachers union, said Smith should get the same 2.3 percent pay raise that teachers are getting under their new contract.
Both men were (perhaps unintentionally) echoing a 2013 analysis from Oregon’s Cascade Policy Institute, a free market think tank, that determined the state’s schools squander far too much money on administrator salaries.
“Instead of investing too little, Oregon schools have failed to invest their scarce resources in the right places, namely students and teachers,” wrote William Newell, a policy analyst for the institute. “A major part of the problem lies in the hiring of an ever-increasing number of administrators and non-teaching support staff who are soaking up highly valuable but limited funding.”
Newell added that Oregon’s huge influx of school administrators and non-teaching support staff in recent years dwarfed the growth rates of student enrollment and new teacher hires.
“Oregon schools now employ more administrators and non-teaching support staff than they do teachers,” Newell noted.
And some of those administrators – like Portland’s Smith – are getting paid very, very handsomely.
There’s no doubt that pro-public school lawmakers and the Education Establishment – that huge beehive of adult school employees – have played Oregon taxpayers for suckers.
The only question is how much longer are voters going to take it?