Cupid’s arrows struck early yesterday at the New Albany Floyd County School Board Meeting. That little naked cherub is good. The sharp projectiles incapacitated five of the seven board members and made them fall undyingly in love with our superintendent, Dr. Bruce Hibbard. In their adoration, the members voted to give Hibbard a $28,500 raise in his new contract as well as a one time $10,000 bonus. That brings Hibbard total salary to $170,500 effective immediately. Happy Valentine’s Day, indeed.
Not all of us are love struck. Our school corp currently is projecting a deficit of $2.8 million dollars for the 2012-13 school year. Many hard decisions have been made including a pay freeze for all support staff and other administrative positions, school closures, teacher layoffs and benefit reductions. Ends had to meet. And so tough choices were made.
I’m not here to argue the effectiveness of Hibbard’s reign as head honcho. He’s done a good job and his accomplishments should be applauded. I like the guy.
However, the hypocrisy of a raise when so many others have sacrificed for the good of our school community is unreal. More cuts need to be made. And now his raise will be prioritized before our children’s other needs. Although $28,500 to some is small money, to our schools it could mean a full-time assistant principal, or several new aides, not to mention that the teachers’ contracts expire this summer. During the new negotiations, things will become a whole lot harder when teachers use this raise as justification for not wanting benefit cuts of their own. And I can’t say I’ll blame them.
My biggest question is how did common sense fail in this situation? All of us know that when you don’t have money in your wallet, you can’t afford certain things.
But the school board decided to take out a line of credit in our children’s names and support this salary increase. School board member Mark Boone and others have said in newspapers that they were afraid Hibbard would leave. In the News and Tribune article, Hibbard even hints that if he didn’t receive the raise, his departure was a distinct possibility. Last year alone, he applied to several open superintendent positions at schools throughout the country.
Seeing this tactic work so wonderfully for the school board, I decided to try it on my husband. I told him that I demanded a yearly increase of $25,000. Obviously our children have improved their reading and math skills under my tenure as their mother. Yes, they go to school six hours a day, but my leadership of getting them to that school daily is the deciding factor in their success.
I also told him that getting rid of me and hiring a new wife would be less cost effective then just giving me the raise. Half of his property is more than $25,000. He needed to act quick, too, because I had numerous other men already making offers as having me for their own. So do we have an agreement?
My back still aches from sleeping on the bumpy old leather couch.
Our school community is much like a marriage. You must give and take and share in the good times and the bad. You also must have trust, honesty and good communication. Somehow I think the school board and our community needs marriage counseling. The fundamentals are just not there.
As for Dr. Hibbard, I do hope he sends flowers on this Valentine’s Day to his love struck friends on the school board. Whaley, Anderson, Boone, Smith and Hines need wine, chocolates and roses, because the community will hold them accountable to this vote. And I’m pretty sure cupid doesn’t have enough arrows in his quiver to hit all those disgruntled voters.