The decision by the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education to raise Superintendent Scott Elder’s salary could not have come at a more inappropriate time.
According to Secretary Courtney Jackson, who proposed the motion, the salary bump was “in alignment with other employees’ raises.”
However, it has seemingly been forgotten there is a huge disparity in the superintendent’s and other employees’ salaries.
Currently, Elder makes around $228,000 a year. With the salary increase, he will make nearly $245,000 a year. As of the latest salary data from APS – provided in October 2021 – the average salary for an APS employee was $44,448.72, whereas the average salary in the United States was $51,480, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Comparing the salaries of employees who do not make the national average income and a superintendent that makes four times that is absurd. It does not take much examination to see who is actually in need of a salary increase.
The decision to raise the superintendent’s salary comes at a time when budget difficulties are plaguing APS.
In May the board reluctantly approved a staggering two-billion-dollar budget. The massive budget caused board members to call into question the district’s spending. However, despite spending concerns, some members felt it appropriate to spend more money. The irony in this is clear.
The budget problems do not end there, though. Within the past year, APS cut 70 support staff positions, 27 administrative positions and 16 instructional positions, leaving an astonishing 113 educators and support staff out of a job.
On top of that, APS cut 36 elective courses and deducted $1.2 million from departments.
Usually, a pay raise is given based on satisfactory job performance. But Elder does not have much to show for it. Staff are losing their jobs, district spending is up, student enrollment is down, and students have lost opportunities that are key to their success. Is this what the board deems as raise-worthy?
Elder has also done little to address glaring problems within APS. His inaction is discernible to community members. For instance, after horrific gun violence across the nation’s schools and here at home, Elder has done little to address school safety or provide a proactive plan to keep students safe.
The community is in dire need of actionable solutions and results. Thus far, neither have been delivered.