Thursday, December 03, 2015

Former reader: Randy, you are a terrible person

It's not a problem until you put a name to it.

It's not a problem until you put a face to it.

When the Turner Report published the names, positions, salaries, and extra-duty pay of every employee of the Joplin R-8 School District, it immediately started a firestorm, surprisingly not in the blog comments area, but on my personal Facebook page.

It started with this comment:

Randy Turner you are a shameless soul. 

I cannot believe that you would broadcast the earnings of every individual employed by the district. Though it may be public information, it is wrong to publicly announce that without the consent of each individual. 

I agreed with the ousting of Huff and that having to buy him out of contract was and still is ludicrous. However to post this information about people who were involved and the ones who had nothing to do with it. 

You are a terrible person. 

You should try using some tact in your future reports. If you can manage to get rid of the chip on your shoulder that you have with the R8. You will most likely have just spawned arguments amongst the faculty, disrespected what teachers that do still follow you, and upset what I am sure is a delicate balance. 

Let's not forget the teachers of R8 are shaping the minds that will be the future of our community. They need our support, not ridicule and reporting of what most consider to be private financial information by an antagonist of a reporter. You my good sir, have lost a reader.

That reader, whose name I am withholding since his comment was on my Facebook page and not on the blog, was not the only one who criticized the release of the salary information.

Here are a few more:

In every job I have ever had it was inappropriate to talk about pay. It may not be what it should be but why would it EVER be public information.

It may be public information but people should go ask for it instead of being spread on Facebook and everywhere else. Public official salaries are open records have theirs been spread around Facebook and the newspaper...not usually. You have to dig and pester to get that info.

And back to the original commenter:

I am merely a resident that is proud of the school system that I came from. My only point was that it is unbecoming and disrespectful to post such information. Is it legal? Yes. Is it within the rights of a reporter? Yes. Is it ethical? No. Will it cause more problem than it was intended to solve? Absolutely. Did Randy Turner use any kind of tact in this particular report. No way shape or form.

Thankfully, not one of those responses has come from an employee of the Joplin R-8 School District. While I am sure there are a few who are unhappy with the post, I would venture that most of them are happy that it is been put into print, though not about the information revealed about the district's salary structure.

It is one thing when I write about the district's communications (public relations) director making $63,000 after receiving a $15,000 pay increase this year. It is another when you see the name of a teacher who has been in he district more than 15 years and is making nearly $25,000 less than this person.

Or how about when you notice that the district is paying two superintendents more than $350,000 this year.?

Or the executive directors, and other highly paid officials who are not in the classroom, many of whom have been written about on this blog in the past because they are not qualified for the positions they hold. We have seen these people stumble their way through one televised board meeting after another, trying unsuccessfully to explain just exactly what it is they do. With this list, we can see how much more money these people are siphoning off the public till, thanks to our previous superintendent.

Or check the names of teachers on the list who are at the very bottom of the pay scale. That gives us an idea of just how many inexperienced teachers are in the school district since the Huff/Besendorfer regime led more than 50 percent of the teachers to leave, on their own or unwillingly.

We also can get an idea of how much teachers receive for extra duties.

The printing of the list has also turned some of the R-8 employees who read the Turner Report into investigators and they have helped me see things that I missed while posting the list. I have already learned of at least one hefty stipend that C. J. Huff made sure a favored high school teacher received in order to keep that teacher from leaving the district.

I am sure it sounds callous of me to say this- but I never gave a second thought about printing the list once I received it. When I was teaching, I had no problem with anyone knowing how much money I made. I was working for the government; the people had every right to know how much I was making. I did not even think about the possibility that someone would be upset with this information being posted.

I was amused by the Facebook response from the woman who thought it should not be put on Facebook or on a blog because though it is public record, people should have to "dig and pester" to get the information.

That is exactly what people should not have to do. Public information is public information.  Perhaps if I or someone else had published this type of information annually, voters would have been made aware of the top-heavy bureaucratic monster that was created in Joplin- a monster that has damaged the teachers, students, and taxpayers of this district.

It is ridiculous for people to get upset about the Turner Report posting this list.

If anything, you should be mad because I didn't do it years ago.


Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with you posting my 'supposed' salary. The only thing I wish people knew was that even though it says $37000, my W-2 says $28,000. I don't even bring home what was posted. From gross to net is $1100 a month difference. Throw in the health insurance that doesn't cover one thing until I pay $900 out of pocket, and I feel very poor.. especially when I'm sick. may say I make $37,000, but I guarantee that's not what I make, and that doesn't even take into account what I have to spend on my classroom each month.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why people are upset; if you work for the public, your salary information should be public, too. Government employees, including the teachers at MSSU, are all listed in the state Blue Book, because they are paid by taxpayers. Same for Joplin R-8.

Anonymous said...

As uncomfortable as it may be, salary and wage information of all public employees should be easily accessible by the citizens. As 6:01 indicated, the state publishes this information in the state Blue Book and the same should be done on a county and city level. Those that disagree with this being public information should not consider a career as a public servant. It is a choice.

Anonymous said...

Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should do it.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should list the pay schedules of Webb City, Carl Junction, and Carthage employees? Seems like it might be helpful for the public to compare Joplin to neighboring Districts to see how it lines up. It would also be interesting to see pay schedules for schools of comparable size. Can you please bring us that information?

Really? said...

How dare you! How dare you!!
How dare you make public information public!

Anonymous said...

The Springfield News-Leader has been publishing all the area's public salaries for a long time; this isn't a new practice in the media. It has been said that sunshine is the best disinfectant and I think that applies in this case. This gives the community an opportunity to see where their tax dollars go and voice their disapproval or approval to the school board. If we we want quality teachers we have to pay them more and this illustrates that point. A high achieving individual with an advanced degree gets left way behind by teaching vs. the private sector when it comes to compensation and that gap increases every year. But, isn't that who we want in the class room? I know it supposed to be a labor of love, but if we don't value our teachers what are we saying about the quality of education we expect?

kitty chiwawa said...

I appreciate the original post, Randy. Kudos to you for helping to further "enlighten" all of the R8 taxpayers as to who gets the lion's share of our taxes every year. Thank you for obtaining this important information and making it easily available.

Anonymous said...

While I do not think Turner a terrible person, I do agree with the commenter's assertion that this post will do more harm than good. Nothing in the post addresses the teacher's experience, bachelor's or masters, years of service or pertinent information. Bus drivers responsible for the safety of multiple students are paid less per year than some raises. No public information was posted on any city employees despite the incompetence and corruption exhibited there. No judicial salaries were posted despite judge's refusing to hear lawsuits filed by citizens in the board election. Turner explains this was to demonstrate the obscenity of CJH and his administrative minions salary, but the average reader is unable to reach such a conclusion based on the data or comments posted therein. Once CJ rolls his trash to the curb at his residence, it becomes public information to Turner or anyone else to glean and post publicly. Does it smell any better than this post or any of Carol Stark's? I think not.

Anonymous said...

How about paying $162,000 a year for two athletic directors and another $30,000 for the secretary(who does a lot of the work). These employees don't teach or supervise, yes they are supposed to supervise events, but they leave that to others.

Anonymous said...

Where I come from in Iowa public salaries(including teachers) are published annually and have been forever.

However, there is a difference from gross to net. And how is employee insurance handled? (That could be significant to a family.) The list indicates salary, but what about additional stipends, car allowance, gas mileage, club memberships, department chairs, extended contracts and so on.

So the point I was making was that there were some exceptional teachers on the list and I was disappointed to see how little they did make in relationship to their content knowledge and mastery teaching skills.

Anonymous said...

Teachers have no expectation of privacy, they are public employees. In fact, there is a salary schedule posted on the district website for everyone except administration and extra duty pay (like coaching). Now those, too, are readily available.
9:23 says "It has been said that sunshine is the best disinfectant and I think that applies in this case."
7:08 points out the difference from gross to net.
5:41 put these numbers in human terms from the teacher's point of view.
These are valid discussions.
Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Teachers don't get paid enough to put up with the crap they have too daily from the admin.,students and their parents. If your an administrator should be paid less.

Anonymous said...

At worst, it's simply a laundry list of people who don't have to beg for money on a blog every few months.

Anonymous said...

It's all public information, available to anyone who has the aptitude and ability to search online. It is available at this link, so if your curious look away.

I might not always agree with Randy but at least he puts information out there to keep the public informed, the Joplin Globe and other media outlets, not so much.

Anonymous said...

I have been with Joplin Schools since the mid 1990s and I just assumed everybody knew what I am paid. What I wish the district would change is the horrible health insurance we have. I have over $1000 a month deducted from my salary for the health insurance and that doesn't factor in the district's contribution each month. I know area districts have comparable coverage for less and I don't understand why Joplin has to run their own plan instead of buying into a larger plan.