Much discussion has occurred about the HCDE budget. Many suggestions have been offered, some good, some a little far fetched. But it is interesting to note that anyone who sneezes and accidentally waves a UnifyEd or XQ Institute banner makes front page news while often good ideas are ignored.
I believe Rhonda Thurman was on the right track, a few weeks ago, when she suggested HCDE take the highest paid teacher as the top of the scale for teacher raises and give that person and everyone below that rate of pay a 5 percent raise, or something along those lines. This solution in essence gives all classroom teachers and all those below that highest paid teacher a raise while eliminating the raises for the higher paid administrative staff.
Recently in the chattanoogan.com a list of the highest paid personnel in HCDE was published. This list raised many eyebrows. Thousands of qualified readers wished they had one of those $80,000- $175,000 plus jobs. I know these people work hard, but many asked the question, is this excessive compensation for our local market, especially while the teachers are being paid less than competitive wages for their level of educational attainment? Additional resentment occurred when the people making the most money are asking for a raise for themselves at the taxpayers' expense. Our Constitution was set up for the government to be run “by the people for the people”, not for the people by the people in charge. The HCDE asked for taxpayers to make a monetary sacrifice, now let’s ask those who are in charge to make the same monetary sacrifice by eliminating raises for themselves at taxpayers' expense. The fact is for every $80,000 and above administrator who does not get a 5 percent raise, two or three average paid classroom teachers will get a full 5 percent raise.
I’m not an attorney but I have worked over 25 years in administration and know a little about labor laws. It is my understanding that salary adjustments or reductions in force for that matter, can be applied to any specific category of employment or pay grades, as long as one is consistent in the administration of the policy to all individuals within that set of employment parameters. This means that essentially any pay grade or job description can be targeted for employment policy, in this case a raise, as long as there is consistent application of policy across the board.
A daily poll is running on the chattanoogan.com as of the writing of this opinion article. At last glance 79 percent of the respondents support pay raises for classroom teachers only. It’s time for the people to take back our government and for HCDE to work for the people.
Thanks again to Commissioners Boyd, Bankston, Fairbanks, Martin and Chairwoman Smedley for their wisdom in voting down the $0.34 tax increase.