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MD Public Schools find speculative controversy in salary cap adjustments

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MD Public Schools find speculative controversy in salary cap adjustments

By Derek Joy

             Just when you think everything is hunky dory with the Miami Dade Public Schools (M-DCPS), up pops cause for speculation to create controversy.

            Yep! The M-DCPS was still shaking its tail feathers over the recent election day win in getting voters to pass their much ballyhooed bond issue.

            And that, combined with getting the United Teachers of Dade (UTD) leadership to accept what amounts to paltry raises for teachers and staffs, signaled smooth sailing until Superintendent Alberto Carvalho convinced Board members to approve salary adjustments for some top level administrative positions, increased the salaries of some others and promoted a select few with salary increases. 

            The salary increases for teachers was as little as 2.5 percent, or $300 annually, while administrative adjustments lifted as much as $35,000 and as low as $6,200.

    Meanwhile, one haunting question is this: Were these salary adjustments to be paid from revenue generated by the bond issue? But strangely enough, not many were willing to answer this and other questions.

    “I regret to inform you that School Board Member Dorothy Bendross Mindingall will not be able to respond to your questions,” wrote Blake Juste, a staff assistant to Bendross Mindingall in an email.

            “As her assistant, I can say unequivocally that recent pay grade upgrade changes had nothing to do with the recent bond referendum. Bond proceeds can only be spent on capital improvement projects and technology, upgrades approved by the Florida Department of Education and the Miami Dade County Public Schools.”

            Mindingall never did respond, nor did Board Member Wilbert “Tee” Holloway. Nor did either respond to the question of whether or not any people of color were among those promoted.

            According to one educator who requested anonymity, “They muzzled everybody.  No-body will talk about that bond issue.”

            Another classroom teacher, speaking anonymously, said: “They sent out emails telling us the salary adjustments won’t affect us. They think we’re stupid.”

            Other relevant questions about the bond referendum went unanswered. One specific question of note: Will people of color secure any contracts and or jobs on those capital improvements financed by the bond revenues?

            “No,” said Associate Superintendent Enid Weisman. “No raises given here except to those administrators who were promoted. None of the bond revenue can be used for anything but capital improvements, updating technology and no computers.

            “I don’t want to make guarantees because they can come back to haunt you. But the Board has made a strong commitment to minorities, not just Hispanics, to get a percentage of the contracts. Equity happens when people are involved.”

            That remains to be seen, as does the aspect of people of color getting a respectable share of the promotions.

            There was much talk of how the Black American communities would again get short changed once the bond referendum passed. The talk, albeit in quiet corners, has grown since the salary adjustments were approved and announced.

            “The Miami Herald didn’t do us justice in their story,” said John Schuster, chief communications officer for the MDCPS. “We adjusted the salary range, not salary raises. 

    “Currently we have nobody at the top of those salaries. When the superintendent came into office, there were eight people making over $200,000. Now there is only one – the superintendent. And the number of people making over $100,000 has been cut in half.”

            Schuster went on to say the salary adjustments were in-tended to be competitive so that other Districts would recruit their top people. 

            However, the one name given by Schuster was hired as a superintendent in another county. There is only one such position in every Florida county. So the salary adjustment wouldn’t affect such a decision.

            “You know, there are other things the Herald could have included in its story,” said Schuster. “We have eliminated all of the “F” schools. We won a Broad Prize and other Districts are looking at us, wanting to recruit our people and model our success.”                      

    When asked about Black Americans who were promoted, Schuster could only think of Tiffany Pauline, who was promoted to director of Charter Schools.

    “She came to us a few years ago on a Broad Fellowship. She stayed with us and worked her way up. Now she’s director of Charter Schools.”

            Thus goes the saga of the administrative salary adjustments that really loom as political pay-offs as the rank and file watch the upcoming UTD elections to outgoing President Karen Aronowitz.


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