Since the 2015-16 fiscal year, the Camp Verde United School District budget has increased from $8.1 million to $9.1 million.
One would logically think this increase in budget would equate to a correlated increase in teacher salaries. After all, teachers are the men and women on the low end of the financial totem pole, spend the most time directly with our children and are most responsible for the success or failure of our schools.
Alas, logic was absent the recent CVUSD Governing Board meeting when the board opted for a mere 1.06 percent raise for teachers but gave administrators a 4 percent raise and the superintendent a 7 percent raise.
Does the superintendent really do 6.604 percent more work with our students in the classroom to warrant such a grandiose raise? Meanwhile teachers accept the scraps, like stale, reheated green beans in the cafeteria.
Proportionality is a factor because a 7 percent raise on a six-figure salary is far larger than 7 percent raise on a teacher’s low wage. Knowing how poorly teachers are paid in Arizona — our teacher salaries are usually ranked at the bottom along with Mississippi and Alabama — one would assume the superintendent and administrators would refrain from asking for a larger proportional raise than their staff, or does Camp Verde not teach fairness? If they did not ask but instead the board simply offered a larger raise, would the noble thing not be for administrators to return that extra income back to the underpaid and overworked teachers who need it more?
Until last week, we thought only the Sedona superintendent could be so unconcerned with the wages on school staff in comparison to his own. Unfortunately, it appears the problem is not endemic to Sedona but rather a systemic issue of deafness among school administrators elsewhere in the Verde Valley. This failure of fairness raises questions about what values we teach our kids.
Has Gordon Gecko really replaced Cincinnatus, George Washington and Harry S. Truman in the CVUSD curriculum? If teachers preach the theoretical American values of fairness, hard work and equality, but students see that greed is the realpolitik motivator, why bother studying ethics? Instead, be real and teach students: “Get what you can get and hand your underlings a mere pittance to keep grumbling at a minimum.”
The United States already faces an enormous wealth gap wherein the top 1 percent of Americans own 40 percent of the wealth in our country. Surely we do not need to demonstrate this on a microecomoic scale in a community where 21.5 percent of Camp Verde children live at or below the federal poverty level.
In the interests of fairness and good governance, it would behoove the administrators and superintendent to reconsider accepting such enormous raises while their teachers, whom they employ to directly instruct our children day in, day out, see only mediocre increases in their take-home pay.
That would show the type of leadership, humility and integrity we want to instill in our children. If they don’t, we should not be surprised about what our kids are really learning in school.