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School Board Rejects Administrators’ 2% Raise, Awards It to Lesser-Paid Professionals

| July 26, 2011

For the school board, it wasn't about graphs. (FlaglerLive)

Immediately after a meeting of the Flagler County School Board where the finance director, Tom Tant, outlined roughly $10 million in cuts for the coming school year, shorter school days, employee lay-offs and a slew of savings tallied up along the way to balance the books, Superintendent Janet Valentine again recommended to the school board 2 percent raises for a group of professional and administrators, some 50 of whom make between $70,000 and $100,000 a year.

Valentine excluded herself from the equation, stating right off that she would not take a raise regardless. She is making $142,788 this year, a decline from her original contract of $145,000.

Valentine brought up the issue for the third time in five weeks Tuesday evening during a meeting scheduled specifically to discuss the proposed 2 percent raise, which has triggered a political wildfire for the board members.But the superintendent also split the proposal into two groups: the more than 50 highly paid administrators in one group, and 28 other employees who are categorized as “professional,” who are not part of any union, who supervise other employees, and who, for the most part, make less money than a starting teacher. (Staring teacher pay will be close to $40,000 this year, helping to rank Flagler County 8th in average teacher salaries in Florida.)

A four-voice majority of the school board rejected the proposed 2 percent raise for administrators, which would have cost the district just over $100,000 and erased the savings just achieved by furloughing the very same employees for four days. (The decision will be formalized in an actual vote next month.)

Citing the recent employee furloughs, which the 2 percent raise would erase, board member Colleen Conklin said: “It would be in my mind not appropriate to give them an increase in pay. That’s me. Does not mean that I don’t value them as a member of my staff.”

The board endorsed the raise for professional staff, however, given their already relatively low pay.

“These are people who are probably making it barely and feeling the effects of the economic situation,” board member Andy Dance said, approving their raise. Colleen Conklin was also supportive.

But Dance, like Conklin and board member John Fischer, did not buy the notion that administrators are underpaid in the county, or that they are underpaid in relation to administrators in other counties. To the contrary. Fischer went through some figures he had gathered to show that in many instances, Flagler’s administrators are being paid about $10,000 more than their peers in surrounding counties.

Dance pressed the point. “Our salaries compared to surrounding counties, even Volusia, with much more students, are pretty significantly higher,” he said, “and even like counties we’ve talked about, Nassau and others, we pay those leadership positions really well. I think they get a fair compensation.”

Trevor Tucker was also opposed to the administrators’ raises.

“You all know that I’m going to disagree with you all,” Board Chairwoman Sue Dickinson said. She was alone in dissent by then, and was last to speak.

We all say that our schools are good schools,” Dickinson said, citing the rank and file, “but they’re also good because of our leaders,” meaning the administrators. She echoed Dance in saying that many of the administrators and professionals turn to the school board to “look out” for them, because they have no union to do their bidding for them and, in Dickinson’s words, “force us to give them raises.” That’s why not giving them a raise for the third year in a row was not acceptable, Dickinson said, when doing so will require the board to play catch-up in the future. She called it a matter of maintaining the higher morale in the county.

Flagler County government employees, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and paramedics included, along with Palm Coast city employees, are also entering their third year facing no raises.

Dickinson then said that she wanted to bring back a list of cost-cutting proposals the teacher union had proposed earlier this year, when the board was looking to make cuts, and find the $100,000 there in order to make the 2 percent raise possible. Conklin was opposed, but said, “If the majority of this board would like to do that, I would simply say, we have gone through that list, and we may need to re-look that list for the coming year,” to make next year’s budget work.

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19 Responses for “School Board Rejects Administrators’ 2% Raise, Awards It to Lesser-Paid Professionals”

  1. lawabidingcitizen says:

    These quotes are quite astounding. Do these elites understand that there are people from whom they are wanting to extract tax money who aren’t working at all, who are losing their homes, who are living at the edge of desperation.

  2. Nick D says:

    WOW…I finally get to give some of our elected representatives praise for actually doing just that; representing the community in which they serve!

    We should all give a special THANK YOU to Chairwoman Sue Dickinson for voicing her opinions and concerns about the administrator’s salaries. This is a prime example of how an elected respective can lead by example; holding the needs of the public she serves above her personal views.

    I know who has my vote in the next School Board Elections!

  3. debra lynch says:

    OMG! Is it just me or do these people make an amazing amount of money considering where we live. My husband had to commute to south florida to make this kind of salary. I am so disgusted with this, lets find out if all these people live in flagler county. I know for a fact that many do not. Which means that they do not even contribute back to the community. W/hat an outrage, it is always these small towns where no one is watching the store. Please people, lets keep our eyes open and remember who we need to elect. People perish through lack of knowledge. Remain vigilant and always aware.

  4. unemployed teacher says:

    “Dickinson then said that she wanted to bring back a list of cost-cutting proposals the teacher union had proposed earlier this year, when the board was looking to make cuts, and find the $100,000 there in order to make the 2 percent raise possible.”

    You have got to be kidding me!! How about you bring back that list and find the $100,000 to give back jobs to those who were let go because of the budget cuts. Some people can be so greedy. Rather than giving those top paid administrators their raise why not think about those teachers who are no trying to collect unemployment because they will not be starting this upcoming school year!

  5. Liana G says:

    Nicely done. Thank you.


    These elites could care less. Greed = respect. This newspeak is killing me

  6. says:

    they care about themselves how dare they ask for more money when it is well known that this county has an high unemployment rate and the lost of homes are very high. they are far from role models for the students.

  7. been there says:

    Please Mr. Fisher…do not compare us to Nassau County. I never want to be compared to Callahan or Fernandina Beach! A closer match would probably be St. John’s, although their northern side has exploded in recent years…thus the need for 3 new high schools! And principal pay of $101K+.

  8. lawabidingcitizen says:

    debra, you’re right that many on the public payroll and not only the school system, live in adjacent areas and not this county. They don’t pay taxes here, they don’t shop here, they don’t patronize our local restaurants, rmedical offices or auto repair shops. We taxpayers are sneered at as low-brow lower middle class types or geezers from the north, IOW nobody they need to be bothered with.

    Want to do something about our housing glut? Demand that anyone earning above minimum wage must live here. Only then will there be a movement to keep costs on the earthly plain and not in the stratosphere.

  9. palmcoaster says:

    Now all here can see who’s side School Board Chairwoman and longest time Board member serving Sue Dickinson is! I can see her give away hand imprint in each and most overpaid administrators current compensations! She sure is well connected with the Education Foundation and other organizations that bow to her and extremely influential because of that. The information regarding these non unionized administrators outreageous salaries provided by Flagler Live is invaluable and a real eye opener.
    This time I agree with LAC, about his suggestion on the clause that our county government professionals reside in Flagler.

    To Debra Linch well said! Your advise is to be followed, about keeping informed, connected and vigilant to prevent these abuses with our voice and ballot. Takes a lot of work but is worth it.

  10. Kevin says:

    How about treating them like a business would—instead of comparing them to what their peer makes in order to arrive at their pricing structures, instead lets create a greater supply of people trained like them as they aren’t rocket scientists, and simply fire and hire until we get the best qualified person at the lowest price and where they know they could be replaced swiftly, if they begin to yelp about wanting increases in already great to live on pay plans. That way we can take the money we saved and create jobs or retain jobs and preventing the negative trickle-down effect to the local economy.

    Is that bad???

  11. That Dude says:

    I have to disagree with the sentiment of many posters on this site. I’m an administrator in Flagler county. I love my job. I work tirelessly to help put children in the best position to succeed. The move from the classroom into an administrative position increased my salary by $10,000. Unfortunately, I lost money because i can’t teach summer school or take on any of the tutoring jobs and other small things that would be available. It’s not a complaint, this job isn’t about the money. It’s about making a difference in students lives. I do my best to give 100% everyday. Sometimes that consist late nights and missing appointments for my own kids so that i can be there for others. I’m not one of the top paid, as a matter of fact, I’m one of the 6 lowest paid administrators. I live in Flagler! I work in Flagler! I eat and play in Flagler! At the end of the day, your money means nothing to me if I don’t have your respect!

  12. Liana G says:

    @ That Dude

    May I call you Sir? Thank You. It’s encouraging to know that there are people who do genuinely care; sometimes they are hard to spot they’re so few. Our district can sure use more of you. Best of success to you and once again Thank You.

  13. Kevin says:

    Dear That Dude,

    You really didn’t lose any money because you only lose money except when you think in terms as many public school employees do. In the private sector, you could have either chosen to stay in your other job and keep making money as you did previously or take the job you did for what reasons you provide. I know that all of you are 100% altruistic but many of you do care about the money. Often I wonder just how many of you teachers would be quickly absorbed into the market place should you leave your less paying jobs because you were fed up with people messsing with your underpaid efforts that you all take on for altruistic reasons? I also wonder what pay you would get coming into the workplace should you say screw you to the citizens, people who say help us out by not asking for increases in pay at this time because their incomes were cut or they lost their jobs completely?

    Lots of people with as good or probably better educations and experience that are unemployed would create long lines to fill those newly vacated teacher jobs especially if they were assisted in getting started in the right direction training for them. I have already looked into it and I see it is a little tough figuring things out on how to get started– the three certifications, the costs, and some other minor issues involving what appear to be high school proficiency tests except on the math because it has calculus and trigonometry which many aren’t familiar with (and grammar for people bad in it as I am).

  14. lawabidingcitizen says:

    Dude, if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t try to squeeze your foot into it. You know better than I that most of your colleagues don’t fit your description.

  15. That Dude says:

    @ Liana G.
    Thank you.

    @ Kevin,
    I think we should agree to disagree on losing money. If you’re interested in moving into education from an outside field, please let me point you in the right direction. Daytona State College has a program, Educator Preparation Institute (EPI). EPI bridges the gap into education from other career areas. There is funding for careers in education, but be warned it’s not as good as advertised. Often the deadlines, required paperwork, and criteria are difficult to meet. Dr. Les Potter at Daytona State is the chair of the College of Education, contact him and he’ll be able to point you in the right direction. If you want an up close look at teaching before you decide, drop me a number or email and I’ll schedule a classroom visit for you on my campus.

    @ lawabidingcitizen,
    I promise I’m not. I’m gladly wearing these size 13’s God gave me. As for your second comment, I’m still learning my peers, but I can confidently say right now that my peers share my philosophy and description.

  16. Val Jaffee says:

    @ That Dude

    …”I can confidently say right now that my peers share my philosophy and description.”
    Glad to hear this but I will have to say SOME not all of your peers, we can definitely leave Mr & Ms M&M off this list.

    Also, I recall reading that one of these principals retired with the DROP system but is now back on the payroll with an annual salary of over $90,000k. Isn’t this double dipping? What’s going on in this district? We can’t afford this either!

  17. PJ says:

    Let’s make this simple.
    1)Give the raises to the teachers first.
    2)no raises for admin this year or next.
    3)no raises for the board, but add 2 years to the board so we give more time to the board members to do thier job.
    4)give the board an automatic raise TBD on % at the time that the 2years get added.

    Oh did I say give the teachers the raise, let me see oh yes it was the (1) or the first one. yea, yea I did. there it is.

    Also one more thing. The folks making the 70K + jobs do not agree can step down. I bet we would get a massive amount applicants in a NY minute.

  18. Kevin says:

    @that dude:

    I want to take you up on that offer but I now live in South Florida;o) I bought two of the books so to study for the math and Science expertise certificates. (the general knowledge on grammer is going to spank my rump red) Anyway, I am already on the road but thanks. I hope to teach business someday at the middle school or high school level because what I have to teach I think every student should have a basic background in.

  19. Jana DiNatale says:

    How about taking that $100,000 and putting it toward the Medical Assisting program at FTI and get the accreditation they “supposedly are working on” per their FTI Catalog the send out and was told in orientation that this program WOULD BE ACCREDITED by the end of 2011. WHAT a JOKE! We STILL DO NOT KNOW WHEN OUR PROGRAM IS ENDING, even though some of us have job opportunities available in January 2012, but without that accreditation, we cannot even take the Medical Assistant Board tests.

    I am sure FTI would be a fine place to obtain some higher education ONCE IT IS OUT FROM UNDERNEATH THE LEECHES of The Flagler County School Board. Oh and how NICE of Janet Valentine, not to include herself in the 2% raise. Give me a break.

    Had I know that this SHEEEIT was going to unfold like it is NOW, trust me…..I’d spend my money elsewhere. We cannot even transfer our credits to anywhere else because of their lack of accreditation. SUCH a sad scenario because the majority of the instructors who do get paid “squat” give their heart and soul.

    WARBI!!!!!!!!!!! We Are Ruled By Idiots!

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