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Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 10:29 am | Partly Cloudy 52º


School Leaders Say They Are Underpaid

Santa Barbara school administrators say they are overworked and underpaid.

After crunching the numbers and producing a study, Santa Barbara public school administrators have come to the conclusion that they are overworked and underpaid.

The report they presented to the Santa Barbara school board on Tuesday night pitted their salaries and resources against those of eight other similar school districts across the state in terms of size and demographics.

Among other things, the study found that Santa Barbara�s high school principals, assistant principals, assistant superintendents and superintendent are paid less than the vast majority of their counterparts at those districts.

The study was met with deep skepticism by one board member, Bob Noel, who noted its unfortunate timing.

While Noel stopped short of making accusations, he said it can�t be ignored that the study comes several months after the business office discovered a surplus of several million dollars that, had the money been accounted for earlier, would have prevented many of last year�s extensive budget cuts in music and junior high electives.

�I know my phone is going to be ringing, and one question that�s going to be asked is, �How are we to conclude this is not a self-serving piece of pseudo-research by staff to get staff raises?�” he said to the two presenters, Davis Hayden, the director of research technology, and Kris Robertson, the director of personnel. �Why didn�t we get somebody else to do this?�

In response, Superintendent Brian Sarvis came to the defense of his staff, pointing out that the board directed them to produce the report months ago. He added that the study actually began before this summer�s budget boondoggle, which precipitated the abrupt resignations of the two top business office officials.

Sarvis said he first noticed a pay discrepancy when he was trying to fill the principal post at Santa Barbara High School in the spring. Now, he said, the problem is recurring as he seeks to fill the assistant superintendent of business position recently vacated by Ed Diaz.

�I�m again concerned about our ability to attract the kind of talent we need in the district,� he said.

According to the study, Santa Barbara�s average assistant superintendent makes about $129,000. Of the other eight districts, just one � Ventura Unified � pays that position less on average, officials said. The seven other districts � Burbank, Napa, Upland, Lake Elsinore, San Marcos, Tustin and Santa Clara � pay between $131,000 and $163,000, according to the report.

Other findings:

�  When it comes to superintendent salaries, only Ventura pays less than Santa Barbara, which pays Sarvis $171,000. The other seven districts pay their leaders between $185,000 and $240,000. (Ventura pays $145,000.)

�  All eight other districts have a higher pay ceiling for high school principals than Santa Barbara, where principals can make as much as $118,600.  However, Santa Barbara�s beginning principal salary of $106,600 is higher than that of three districts.

�  Santa Barbara�s elementary principals fare a little better in the comparison than their high school counterparts. The starting salary of $92,800 is higher than that of five districts, and the top salary of $104,000 is higher than that of two of the districts.

�  Santa Barbara�s district office is slightly understaffed. While its number of department directors � seven � is about on par with the average, its number of assistant superintendent positions � three—is below the average of 3.5. Hayden added that Santa Barbara�s number of people working under the directors is also lower on average than the others.

�  Santa Barbara had the highest cost of living of the nine districts.

“We do seem to be paid less and we do seem to have less staff and we do seem to have fewer administrators than districts that seem as comparable as we can get,” said Hayden.

Like Noel, teachers union President Layne Wheeler also offered criticism, albeit in a gentler way.

Prefacing his comments by commending Hayden and Robertson for undertaking a difficult task, he noted that Santa Barbara�s high quality of life should be among the factors considered.

�While Upland is probably a wonderful community, I�m not sure I�d find many people who would opt to live in Upland over Santa Barbara,� he said.

He added that teachers take three times as long as administrators to reach the top of their salary schedule.

During the presentation, Robertson revealed some of the recruitment woes she has encountered.

�The question (interviewees) ask sometimes is, �Is that what you really pay?�” she said. �If we want to hire and maintain quality administrators, then we need to address the inequalities in our salary schedules and staffing ratios.”

She added: “It isn’t just about salaries, it’s also about shortage of staff and workload.”

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