PWC School Board Votes Not to Give Superintendent Raise in 2018, Same COLA as Teachers Thereafter

| June 20, 2018 | 0 Comments | Education

Prince William County Superintendent of Schools Steven L. Walts.

The Prince William County School board did not provide a contract extension nor raise to Prince William County’s Superintendent’s Dr. Steven L. Walts’ contract for the 2018-19 school year, beginning on July 1. His contract runs until 2021.

However, at a June 18 closed session meeting, the Prince William County School Board voted to 5-3 to provide him with a consistent annual increase in salary commiserate with the average raise educators within the district are receiving that year. This increase will take effect July 1, 2019.

According to the amended contract, when a teachers or other salaried employee receive a cost of living adjustment [COLA] the superintendent’s salary will increase accordingly based upon percentile per total salary.

“If PWCS employees receive a cost of living percentage increase in 2019, the superintendent will receive  the same. The superintendent is not on the employee salary scale and does not receive step increases,” said Diana Gulotta, Director of Communications for Prince William County Schools.

.As per contract the COLA raise can be terminated via a school board vote whereas his current salary cannot decrease.

The superintendent’s is $315,603.20 plus ample benefits. His salary increase in 2019 would be approximately $8,000.

Traditionally, the superintendent’s raise has been determined annually following performance reviews, thus allowing it to be merit-based. However, often times he has receive raises at a similar rate as his employees in that year.

The vote broke down along party lines with Democrats favoring the new salary scale and Republicans opposing it.

School Board members Loree Williams (Woodbridge), Lillie Jessie (Occoquan), Justin Wilk (Potomac), Diane Raulston (Neabsco) and Chairman At-Large Babur Lateef voted for the amendment.

Members Alyson Satterwhite (Gainesville), Gil Trenum (Brentsville) and Willie Deutsch (Coles) voted in opposition.

Superintendent’sSalaryAdjustment

Justin Wilk of the Potomac District believes the new arrangement will incentivize the administration to provide raises for teachers and all employees. He said they will continue to hold performance reviews and he expects the superintendent will have to earn a proficient score. It is not about getting a free pass.

For him, the issue is employee wages. “The real issue is the pay for their employees. I was the only one who supported the COLA last year.”

He also was the only  board member to support restoring steps for teachers besides former chairman Ryan Sawyers. Wilk said he is concerned about losing teachers to nearby counties that pay better wages.

Wilks plans to propose a 5% wage increase for the 2019-20 school year.* “I hope my fellow board members choose to support it.”

The salary increase for the superintendent has been a hot topic especially around Gainesville where the former Ronald Reagan Middle School Principal Alfie Turner had been under fire for allegedly creating a hostile work environment and bullying her teachers. Residents and teachers pushing for change, were unhappy with the resulting actions on the part of the administration.

At a town hall meeting, led by Gainesville Supervisor Peter Candland, the supervisor said if it were up to him, Dr. Walts would be looking for a new job. He echoed the sentiments of many in the room. Those sentiment may explain the reason the superintendent did not receive a raise this year nor a contract extension.

Still, some are dissatisfied that the contract seems to promise raises in the future and is still too sweet a deal for the superintendent.

Alyson Satterwhite, Gainesville school board member, said she voted against the amendment for a number of reasons, including listening to her constituents concerns.

I voted against the superintendent’s contract amendment because I do not agree with an automatic COLA annually for the superintendent, but instead that any proposed raise should be discussed and decided on yearly by the board.

Additionally, many constituents in the Gainesville District made it very clear to me that they did not want to see additions made to the superintendent’s contract this year.

Our School Board continues to be in a time of transition. Despite that, this board just passed a binding motion that will activate only six months before a new board is sworn in to serve beginning January 1, 2020. The new board will now be bound by these terms.

Willie Deutsch shared his dismay over for the salary amendment, posting on social media, Tuesday:

The heart of the amendment builds in an automatic salary increase to the Superintendent’s salary starting a year from now equal to the average pay raise received by teachers and staff.

This built in escalation along with other things that will be requested in the future is possibly one of the biggest contractual wins for the Superintendent. (A step increase for employees next year, now means the Superintendent will get roughly an $8,500 pay increase.)

There continues to be two different views of what it means to be a School Board member on display.

One side is comfortable to cede as much control and decision to the administration as possible, the other believes in respectfully holding the administration accountable.

I’m glad that Gil Trenum and Alyson Satterwhite are strong advocates of holding the administration accountable on behalf of the public.

The superintendent’s contract was scheduled to be reviewed on May 23, but the was delayed since an agreement was not reached, and members agreed to reconvene before July as per state law.

The superintendent runs the second largest county in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Alyson Satterwhite in running in a special election in November to become school board chairman-at-large. Babur Lateef holds but said he plans to run for the seat as well.

 

*Correction: Justin Wilk is advocating for a teacher raise for the following school year, 2019-20. 

© 2018, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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