Sunday, January 18, 2015
Joplin Globe: C. J. Huff not overpaid, fighting for higher teacher salaries
The Globe made an argument that school superintendents should be overpaid and that C. J. Huff is a bright, shining knight fighting to improve the salaries of his faculty.
The newspaper also allowed Huff to tell how much more difficult his job is since he has to spend so much time dealing with poverty. Globe reporter Emily Younker writes, "He has long championed meeting children's basic needs in an effort to allow them to focus on school; the Bright Futures organization was created in 2010 based on this premise."
The article also uses statistics provided by Huff to show that the average teacher salary in the Joplin R-8 School District is $40,884. The only way that can be true is if Huff is categorizing his teaching/learning coaches, who serve as low-level administrators and do not have any classroom teaching duties, as teachers.
That has to be the case since over the past three years, the Huff Administration has driven scores of veteran teachers out of the system and replaced them with first and second year teachers, who receive minimum salaries.
One Huff quote in particular stands out. "Personally, I think our educators across the board are underpaid and underappreciated, and we have to find creative ways to offer opportunities to earn more money."
That sounds like the comment of someone who wants to make it appear that Joplin NEA's request for a ballot for collective bargaining is about teacher pay and not about the conditions that teachers have been forced to work under during the seven years Huff has been in charge.
The irony of this, and of course, it is not mentioned in the Globe, is that R-8 teachers would have received a pay increase of about three dollars a week and no salary steps under the budget C. J. Huff submitted to the board in June. (See accompanying photo of budget letter signed by Huff and CFO Paul Barr.)
Teachers would have gone into the hole under that budget since insurance costs were increased, but board member Debbie Fort fought to have that changed and the board's Finance Committee worked out a way to give the teachers a pay increase and their steps on the salary schedule.
If this had been a one year occurrence, it might be easier to overlook Huff's statement, but this year's budget was not the first in which teachers received no pay increases and did not receive their salary schedule steps.
The Globe "analysis" also explains why Huff is paid $177,275 a year and why superintendents in neighboring school districts have received pay increases by percentages far in excess of what teachers have received.
Basically, it amounts to the old axiom that if you want to have good administrators you have to pay higher salaries. If you want to have good teachers, well, what board would want to have good teachers if it can have superintendent who can run off those good teachers?
According to Joplin R-8 Board of Education President Annie Sharp, who was also the president when C. J. Huff was hired, the board's search firm and the Missouri School Boards Association said the salary should be increased to make Joplin's salary about the same as other districts of similar-size.
So, in order to hire a superintendent who could spend the district into near bankruptcy, run off hundreds of excellent teachers, and have the lowest test scores in the area we have to pay $177,275? (And that's not counting the three weeks of workdays Huff spent hopscotching the U. S. and Canada on his "We Will Have School" tour.)
Shouldn't we have been more reasonable and hired a superintendent who would only put us a few million in the hole, only run off a hundred or so teachers, and have slightly higher scores at a cost of maybe $120,000?
If Anne Sharp was willing to pay $177,275 a year for what we have received the past seven years and can justify it by saying you have to pay for quality, maybe, just maybe, she has been on the board too long.
With that kind of logic, it should be the R-8 taxpayers and not the superintendent who are shedding the tears.