DUNCANVILLE (CBSDFW.COM) – Duncanville school board trustee Dorothy Wolverton called it one of the most disappointing votes in her 10 years on the board: Late last month, the superintendent got the OK on a 16.5 percent salary increase, despite the district’s likelihood of facing a $6 million shortfall.
“I’m very frustrated,” Wolverton said. “I feel like I’m completely ineffective now.”
The vote was five to two with Wolverton and fellow trustee Dr. Deborah Harris voting a resounding ‘no.’
“I pleaded with the board,” Wolverton said. “Please don’t do this. This is not the right time.”
The state’s massive deficit will likely leave the Duncanville Independent School District with a $6 million shortfall for the 2011 – 2012 school year. Estimates from third-party firms put that number at $10 million.
“We knew that there were going to be some tough times ahead,” Wolverton said.
Louis McElroy, Duncanville school board president, spoke on behalf of the five trustees who voted for the salary increase. McElroy said the board did not authorize a pay raise. Instead, it simply restructured the superintendent’s contract for a job well done.
“Due to his good judgment and frugal fiscal policies, our district is prepared to weather the severe monetary and policy hits from the decline in the state’s budget,” McElroy said.
Ray said he sees no problem with the approved changes to his contract.
“The board has discussed using this as another opportunity to restructure it, but it’s totally not a salary increase,” Ray said. “It is merely a restructuring of what was already committed by the tax payers of this district.”
Ray’s current contract allows for the board to vote every year on performance bonuses and longevity incentives. This new restructuring does away with those bonuses and incentives and replaces them with a straight pay raise of more than $32,000.
Ray said it works out to be the same in the end and at no cost to the taxpayers.
But Harris said whether it’s a bonus, an incentive or a pay-raise, it still sends the wrong message.
“Even though our superintendent has done a good job, if we could afford to give him a raise, then I would be that,” Harris said. “But right now, it’s just totally the wrong time.”
District spokeswoman Tammy Kuykendall said Duncanville ISD has cut $10 million over the past four years and yet, despite those efforts, the state is likely to leave the district $6 million in the hole.
“It doesn’t look like responsible use of taxpayer funds,” Harris said.
Kuykendall said no teachers will be laid off, but the defecit may lead to cuts in other programs. Meanwhile, Ray has not signed off on the contract. He said he plans to look it over before taking any action.
Under his current contract, Ray also receives a $700 monthly car allowance and a phone allowance of $200.