Is teacher pay fair?
When school officials ask the Oklahoma legislature or the taxpayers for additional funding, is that money going to new textbooks, equipment or program expansion or is it being put toward administrative salaries?
Collectively, the superintendents of the 520 school districts in Oklahoma make a salary of $54 million, and this does not include assistant/deputy/co-superintendents. The highest paid superintendent in Oklahoma is Kirby Lehman, superintendent of Jenks District, who makes $260,000. In addition to high salaries, many superintendents also receive up to $20,000 in extra benefits.
Sixteen Oklahoma school districts pay their superintendents a higher salary than Mary Fallin, governor of Oklahoma, receives. Governor Fallin manages a population of 3.6 million people, a $7 billion budget and oversees dozens of agencies. In comparison, Superintendent Rita Ford from the Eufaula School District manages 580 students and has a salary of $172,000.
In her inaugural speech, Governor Fallin addressed this issue when she said, “Too much money is spent on the administration, and not enough money is spent on educating our students.”
Questions are arising: should the state be allowed to put a cap on superintendents’ salaries? They are, after all, being funded by state taxes. One proposal is to set the cap at $147,000 – the same as Oklahoma’s governor.
“Teacher’s pay is capped, no matter where you go,” junior education major Calee Freeman said. “It’s not fair that superintendents don’t have the same restrictions.
The state superintendent, Janet Barresi, has a salary of $124,000, but there are 58 school districts whose superintendents receive higher salaries. Over two hundred district superintendents are making over $100,000.
On the other hand, the teachers in Oklahoma are making an average of $41,000 – ranked 48th in the nation. Should the discrepancy between administrative and teachers’ salaries be narrowed?
“I believe that superintendents supervise, whereas teachers teach,” junior elementary education major Hannah Huber said. “Teachers are doing the majority of the educating, and I believe that their pay should, not necessarily be higher, but there should be less of a disparity between the two.”
Another alternative for narrowing the gap would be to keep the superintendents’ salaries constant, but raise teachers’ salaries.