Our Opinion: Superintendent's pay raise reflects inequity

The Jefferson City Board of Education sent the wrong message Monday when it approved a 5 percent hike in the superintendent’s salary, to $198,975 annually.

We have no quarrel with the board’s decision to extend Superintendent Brain Mitchell’s contract for one year.

But the $9,475 pay increase is excessive, particularly in comparison to raises for other employees of the public school district.

The seven-member school board in June approved average 2.8 percent raises for all employees for the current school year.

The superintendent’s raise does not become effective until next year, but we do not envision an equivalent pay hike next year for district employees.

Board President Alan Mudd praised Mitchell for an “outstanding job.”

Admittedly, the superintendent faces a challenging task. He oversees a district that employs 1,180 people, educates 8,700 students and has a $79 million operating budget for the 2011-12 school year.

Nevertheless, the disparate pay hikes mirror the inequity in wealth distribution and corporate salaries that has fueled the Occupy protests nationwide.

The inequity is not the only concern.

The school district is in the process of exploring options to improve secondary education — options that will carry a price for district taxpayers.

Although the superintendent recommended, and the board agreed, to delay action for another year, district patrons anticipate a school bond issue and levy increase in the near future.

The raise suggests the board is rewarding its chief officer at the expense of taxpayers, in addition to the district’s rank-and-file workers.

The Jefferson City Board of Education, for the most part, makes thoughtful decisions.

This decision marks a departure. We find it disappointing, troublesome and potentially damaging to the board’s future initiatives.

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