State representative, others weigh in on state superintendent's pay raise

Published 08/20 2014 06:19PM

Updated 08/28 2014 01:46PM

A big pay raise for the state superintendent is getting some strong reactions.  This comes after the Alabama Legislature voted against pay raises for teachers earlier this year.  State Education Superintendent Tommy Bice will get $50,000.00 added to his annual salary.

"The teachers didn't get a raise, and so understanding that they're forking out money out of their own pocket for supplies and things like that for their classrooms, I think it's unfair," said Dale County resident Brenda Melton.

Ozark resident Robin Wyatt also disagrees with the school board's decision.

"I'm not saying that he hasn't worked hard and that he doesn't deserve it, but I think the timing is really off.  Fifty thousand dollars is not enough to give every teacher a raise, but to me, that $50,000.00 could have been put to better use,” Wyatt said.

It's a 26% increase, raising Bice's salary from from $198,000.00 to $250,000.00 per year.

"I thought it was a very bad decision on the state school board's part,” said State Representative Steve Clouse (R-Dale and Houston Counties).  “They're allocated a certain amount of funds from the legislature each year to operate the state board of education, and they decide the administrative salaries and so forth."

School board members say it will match the salary of  Chancellor Mark Heinrich, and supports say it's a raise well-deserved for Bice, who oversees more than 750,000 students around the state, on top of the superintendents and educators who teach them.  Legislators acknowledge it's a tough load.

"They work hard, they've got a lot of responsibilities in this day and age, and so many requirements from the federal government in particular, to make sure those school systems are following those requirements," Clouse said.

But he says teachers also carry a heavy load.  And because of the health care funding, the state legislator voted to not increase their pay.   

And he says the funds would be better spent on school programs that suffered after the recession.

" I think it will certainly be a point of contention next year when they come back for budget hearings.

The State Board of Education voted 6-2 in favor of the pay raise.  The new contract will last three years and five months, and it includes a monthly housing allowance of more than $1,700.00.

Note - The two no votes were Betty Peters of Kinsey and Stephanie Bell of Montgomery.

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