The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education’s decision not to extend Superintendent Scott Elder’s contract beyond July 2024 adds up. The board, most of whose members were elected last November, has not yet had a chance to evaluate Elder’s performance, so it makes sense to wait until next year and revisit the extension idea then.
What doesn’t add up is the board’s decision at the same meeting last month to give Elder a $16,000 raise, bumping his annual salary from $225,000 to about $241,000.
Elder, hired in March 2021, is the leader of the state’s largest school district, which is overstaffed by hundreds of employees, lost 5,500 students in the past year, and has student outcomes low and “getting worse,” according to a recent legislative report. (Board Vice President Peggy Muller-Aragón was the lone “no” vote on the salary-increase motion that passed 5-1.)
School board Secretary Courtney Jackson, one of four new APS board members, further confused the answer with bad math, saying Elder’s $16,000 increase is “in alignment with the other employees’ raises.” School board President Yolanda Montoya-Cordova, a carry-over from the prior board, also spoke of Elder’s raise being “fair and in alignment.”
But, when state lawmakers in February unanimously approved average pay raises of 7% for education employees and state workers, they did not trumpet also boosting the top salaries of school administrators by 7%.
Top administrators’ raises should not be based on what much lower paid, in-classroom educators receive. They should be based on job performance. To put a finer point on it, a 7% raise for a teacher making $50,000 is $3,500; for an administrator with a $225,000 salary, it is nearly $16K.
Glaringly absent from the discussion was evidence of student academic improvements under Elder’s watch.
Inflation is at a 40-year high. National Guardsmen are acting as substitute teachers and the state is begging retirees to return to the classroom. Handing Elder another $16K a year because “everybody got a 7% raise” is beyond tone-deaf.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.