TPS Superintendent Defends Administrative Raises After Pushback

Tuesday, July 5th 2016, 6:06 pm
By: Emory Bryan

After getting some pushback from the public, the head of Tulsa Public Schools is defending some raises for top level administrators.

The salaries were recommended by human resources at the district and the superintendent doesn't consider them raises, simply some of the same people moving into new jobs.

But that's not how the teachers union sees it.

The reorganization at the top was part of the new school budget approved June 20th. Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist said it included employees losing jobs, some taking jobs at lower salaries and some getting jobs with higher pay.

“And, in other cases, they took on different responsibilities and were on a different pay scale because the position they applied for was on a different pay scale,” Gist said.

She said the district eliminated 175 jobs and created 73 new ones - some at higher, some at lower salaries – but, overall, the change, she said, will shift almost $4 million back into schools.

But the head of the teachers union, Patti Ferguson Palmer, complains about the priorities of the spending.

“The teachers are going to have extra students in their classrooms. We, of all people, get that people deserve more money when they take on more responsibility...When so many of these people were already making six figures, and they're getting a raise…to someone making $32,000, $33,000, and their kids are on food stamps, it makes it look like they're not appreciated,” she said.

The swing in salaries was, in some cases, more than $20,000 up and down.

Gist said no amount of saving on the administrative side would significantly change teachers’ salaries, but the changes made so far would make a dent in savings.

"In all these cases, it's resulting many millions of dollars in savings for Tulsa Public Schools," she said.

The superintendent has a much more detailed written explanation of the decision making. You can read that explanation here.