The decision of the Denair Unified School District to spend federal Jobs Bill funding on giving three principals one-time bonuses of $10,000 each was met with questions by some in the community, but DUSD officials say the money was put to good use.
Recently, the DUSD Board of Trustees awarded three $10,000 payments to Denair Charter Academy Principal Karla Paul, Denair High School Principal Steve Doerkson and Denair Middle School Principal Aaron Delworth. The money came from federal Jobs Bill funding, passed in 2011 to save teacher and educator jobs and improve salaries.
In the past three years all three of the principals have had their annual pay increases frozen. Additionally, the assistant principal positions at each of the schools have been eliminated due to budget cuts.
“We thought we would put that Jobs Bill funding to good use. They have sacrificed their income potential and if they were on our regular salary schedule they would be making much more,” said DUSD Superintendent Ed Parraz. “Not to mention they are working without assistant principals and that requires a lot of their time for after-school events.”
According to Parraz, Delworth makes $61,000 a year and would be getting paid $84,635, if the pay freezes weren’t in effect. Doerkson earns $75,000 a year, and would be getting $88,714; and Paul gets $66,000, instead of $72,000. In addition to her role at DCA, Paul is also the special education administrator Denair’s virtual school and she is in training to be the district’s Congressional Budget Office Program Mentor.
In comparison to California Department of Education financial data, the Denair administrators receive far less than the average statewide salaries for each position. For a middle school principal position the average for a similar sized district is $92,196. The average for a high school principal is $93,352. There is no CDE category for a K-12 distance education program salary average, however, the average for an elementary principal is $87,651.
Barry Cole, president of the Denair Unified Teacher’s Association, said the teachers he represents understand why the payments were made.
“In reality, they (district officials) did not have to tell us why they are giving them the payments but they did and we appreciate it. We know that they (principals) are grossly underpaid. We are a small, tight community and we are all friends here. There were some upset people, but then we had a teachers meeting and it seemed like everyone was happy, however, we only agreed to two principals, not three,” he said.
Cole said the district has $150,000 in Jobs Bill money and teachers are currently negotiating with DUSD officials on how to split up the remaining funds among teachers.
In the past three years DUSD has not had teacher layoffs or increased class sizes. However, the school year has been reduced from 182 days for students to 176 days.
Parraz noted that unlike many school boards in the area, DUSD is shaping its 2012-13 budget on the belief that one of the two tax increase proposals will be approved by voters in November.
“We are assuming the taxes will pass but if it doesn’t work out then we will come back to the drawing table. If they don’t pass we are looking at losing about $400,000,” he said.