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home : opinions : editorials June 24, 2016

4/29/2014 10:46:00 AM
Editorial: School staff turnover solution needed
Williams-Grand Canyon News

At a recent school board meeting, board members commented on the low salary scale for support staff (non-teaching). They tabled the adoption of this salary schedule and directed the business manager and superintendent to look into raising the minimum amounts of pay.

Focused Future, a committee comprised of concerned community leaders, stated as a goal in their 2010 Strategic Plan for Community and Economic Development to increase teacher pay and yearly testing scores.

The Arizona legislature has not fully restored funding cut a few years ago. The legislature is not funding schools the way they should, making many schools operate on very tight budgets.

Our schools are a cornerstone of our community, and Williams has continuously and vigorously supported our schools through overrides, local donations and scholarships. But the community itself cannot donate or vote its way out of low employee pay and high turnover rates in our school district.

More than 45 employees have left the Williams School District in the past two years. At least 10 teachers are leaving the Williams School District this year, and 10 teachers left last year. This is one-quarter of the teaching staff leaving each year.

The superintendent, principals and business manager were each awarded a substantial pay increase of $10,000 or more a year for the coming school year. Teachers received no raises on their contracts this spring, and the board has not yet acted on the prospect of raises for non-teaching staff.

We realize that pay alone cannot guarantee retention, or attract qualified staff to our schools. Pay is only one piece of the puzzle... but it is a very big piece. We encourage the Williams Unified School District to put more resources toward all employees.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Article comment by: Ron Pauly

I don't know why the turnover rate is high.
But the quality of the teaching is very low. I can only guess that many teachers really don't have their heart in it.Many people have told me about going to home schooling because of the horrible job done at the schools in Williams. I find myself agreeing with them.
There seems to be no performance expectations of the teachers.No accountability. I can see why AZ is rated low versus other states.
I have only experienced such dismal performance from union run places and things run by our federal government.

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Article comment by: Wayne In Williams

This discussion is all a waste of time. Like all things in Williams decisions are made by a very small group of insiders. Regular people never have a chance

Posted: Monday, May 5, 2014
Article comment by: School Board Meeting

I think people going to the school board meeting or letting school board members know what is going on is the way to get things to change! May 14th people should go and let the school board members know what they think. I have heard that with the teacher's contracts and the chain of command the superintendent has made it harder for the teachers to speak up. She is trying to run a dictatorship and award herself. This community cares to much about it's kids to allow her to do this! . As most of the people in this town are WHS alumni, it's a shame and heart breaking to see the school system on a steady decline. The AZ legislator has made it harder so good teachers, administration and staff are vital!

Posted: Sunday, May 4, 2014
Article comment by: Lisa McFerren

An administration that forces staff out- yes, it's true. I know, I worked there, my husband worked there. We moved back to the area to work and retire. We left for that very reason- forced out. I can only advise those of you that I worked with to find another job- at a school that will appreciate you for you, and for what you can bring to the classroom.
I worked closely with the SPED support staff. They worked them to the bone with the phrase "all other duties as assigned". That was said quite a few times in my presence.
WUSD #2 is a very hostile work environment.
Money is the deciding factor.
True many people should be given raises in Williams, but when a teacher with 12 years or more experience is making what a newly graduated teacher makes that is wrong. And teachers will accept the low pay to live in Northern Arizona. Williams is notorious for high rent and low wages. Sad.
For a school district that claims to be broke, it is odd that administration could get raises.
I question that.

Posted: Friday, May 2, 2014
Article comment by: Parent Fears retaliation

In the past, the superintendent was whs principal too. I was shocked when they could afford to separate the position a couple years ago. Now, to hear of raises? What are we rewarding? A leadership team that makes between 75 and 96k a year that forced out 45+ Employees since they began (exactly 2 years ago)? Go to to DIstrict Office and ask for the salaries of administrators and the new board approved contracts- as a taxpayer it is your right to this information. It is illegal for them to not give it. Ask for support staff wages. Most barely make above minimum wage and work in some if the most undesirable circumstances. Teachers haven't had raises in years and they don't even get a lunch break! All staff know they could make more $$ anywhere else but they tolerate it because they love this community. Put the pieces of this puzzle together and defend the people that make the school great- para pros and teachers. Don't let the administration continue to push people out. Board members need to ask why people are leaving...it has NEVER been just about the money.

Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: Tip of The Iceberg!

Some of the support staff ARE college educated. And like so many of the certified teachers they choose to be there out of their love for the students. Does that mean they should be forced to be put in situations that may or may not be legal? Does that mean they are any less worthy of respect? Of course not! In order to have a thriving school, it is imperative to have a strong support staff. The support staff takes on unpleasant jobs that no one else is willing to do, mainly in the special ed department. This year there was a large population of high needs special ed students. Funding for more aides to provide the proper services needed to be given to these students was requested and then denied due to lack of funds. We are required by law to provided services for these students and they like so many other students they are not being "kept at the heart of every decision" like Mrs. Savage claims. The Board needs to wake up and start asking questions. I invite the Board to interview EVERY single staff member that is leaving this year and find out why they are really leaving. I think the Board, if they have any shred of human decency, would be appalled to find out what is really going on. Lets see if the Board takes action or if they choose to continue to turn a blind eye.

Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: REMOVE HER! It is time.

The salaries of all administrators is public record I was sick when I saw $96,000 a year is the board approved salary for the highest paid one. All others are very close in salary. Why is the paper being so polite about this? Any tax payer can march on into the district office and demand salary records and go to the paper with the information. The fact is it was $15K per administrator extra. The support staff barely make minimum wage and the administrators are laughing all the way to the bank. It is criminal. No really, it is. It is wrong to fire and push out excellent teachers and community members that make slightly better salaries only to hire people with no teaching experience at the bottom of the payscale. Oh yeah, that must be how they are able to pad their wallets! That is the pot that salaries come from and it was a genius plan to get more money for themselves. I feel bad for students losing wonderful educators and support staff to have inexperienced people that are cheap and learning on the job....none of this is to help children. Please go to the board meetings and voice your opinions. The superintendent should be removed in the same way and for the same exact reasons as the Grand Canyon one was just recently.

Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: WUSD Parent

John - The reason I cannot give my name is out of fear of retaliation against my kids who attend the schools in this district. Also, like many other locals, I am an casual acquaintance to several staff members and do not want them retaliated against by way of association. Not that I've had lengthy conversations with any teacher or aide in which they divulged insider information. Simply talk to any one of them and you can see the fatigue with this administration in their faces. This is a small town and everyone knows who associates with whom. It is my opinion that this administration is not above retaliating against those that they might somehow associate with a negative post here.

Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: John Aguilar

What I find amusing is all of you posters who refuse to use your real name. I don't disagree with what most of you have posted but you don't have the guts to put your name with your comment and yes my name is John. Our teachers are under payed and over worked but I know a lot of people who are in the same boat. I don't understand how the administration could ask and get such a large increase and not try and do the same for their employees. The board needs to ask themselves why are all these employees leaving the district, it's just not the pay. Sounds like the morale issues and all other issues start at the top. I really don't know what all the issues are but obviously there are some, I'm not going comment on this any further or again because if I wanted change I should run for school board just as the rest of you should. Last election there were three spots and only the incumbents ran, at least they are trying to do something for our schools. This comment has been edited because some portions violated the comment Terms of Use.

Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: Wolf in Sheeps clothing

I don't think that you can hold the administration as a whole responsible for rewarding a poor work ethic and inconsideration of co-workers by increasing their own salaries. The governing board at some level needs to be held accountable for allowing this to occur. There is a very poor morale at both schools that effects our students and their learning. Shouldn't this be the main concern? Let's face it, there has never been a ton of money to be made in any area of the education field especially in a small town. Educating is a self gratifying job not a highly paid job! If they are in it for the money they need to re-think things.

Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: Angry Parent

Everyone above is completely right. We need to vote out the school board, as they behave like a group of good-ol boys, protecting their own and not the kids that they should be protecting. The superintendent should not be getting a raise because her actions have been questionable and if there is no money for the educators, there should be none for the admin either. A portion of this comment has been edited because it violated the comment Terms of Use.

Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: Long Time Employee

I hope the Board is paying attention. I have never seen moral so low. Not only is it a pay issue, it is an administration issue. I wish the Board would ask the staff that are leaving why they are leaving, I bet they would be surprised, it's probably not the money. Portions of this comment have been edited because it violated the comment Terms of Use.

Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: Unhappy Tax Payer

This whole thing - of giving raises to govt bureaucrats is why we are so overtaxed. I say CHARTER SCHOOLS - lets eliminate the madness of the inefficient and ineffective Williams School System

Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: Williams Tax Payer and WHS Alumni

It is saddening to realize that the current generation of students attending Williams public schools are having to struggle with the additional problems caused by poor management. Did the superintendent, principals, and business manager consider what the impact of having 25% teacher turnover each year would have on a student's education? Or was getting this many teachers to choose to not work for them part of their own strategic business plan? To reward this kind of performance with a $10,000 pay raise is insulting.

Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: Mike Forrester

I voted for an override which said there would be no loss of programs. Now there isn't a librarian, no industrial technology teacher, Spanish taught by a computer, high turnover, and they fire a teacher for going to a bar? Then they give raises like these to 4 people who are at the top pay already? Something smells....

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