School Board was right to deny administrative pay cuts

While the recent gesture of a voluntary pay cut by the North Kitsap School District superintendents was an admirable one, the school board was wise to reject it last week.

The salary reduction — 2 percent each for superintendent Rick Jones and assistant superintendents Chris Willits and Shawn Woodward — would not have greatly impacted the overall school district budget. It was a $9,355 drop in a $65 million bucket. But it was the least the administrators could do to help close a budget gap of more than $300,000.

The broader goal of the pay cut was less innocuous. Administrators hoped that by taking a voluntary hit, other district employees, including teachers, would be more willing to “sacrifice.” But teachers have already laid plenty on the budget altar. They’ve lost co-workers and staff development days while class sizes have grown.

And although staff salaries make up the largest portion of the district’s annual budget, that’s not an expense to skimp on. In teaching, just as in every profession, you get what you pay for.

The school board was right to note at its Aug. 19 meeting that giving superintendents a pay cut sets a negative precedent. It opens the door to the possibility of trimming other employees’ pay.

Our teachers (and the people who manage them) deserve proper compensation for the work they do. Reducing pay to balance a budget should not be an option. If the state upheld its paramount duty to adequately fund education, the school board and district administrators might not be forced to consider pay cuts. But until that adequate funding is realized, the district will have to stretch what it has, while minimizing harm to students and staff. Avoiding a superfluous pay reduction for administrators set a good example.

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