Teachers and parents are among those angry about a $22,000 pay raise granted to Florence school Superintendent Janet Womack.
If the goal of the Florence city Board of Education is to anger the people they represent, they have succeeded.
Of course, no one believes, nor should they believe, that is the goal of the school board.
When board members recently granted a $22,000 pay raise to Superintendent Janet Womack, they were simply rewarding her for what they considered a job well done. They probably also were trying to ensure she doesn’t leave the school system for a more lucrative position.
But the pay increase has angered teachers. They haven’t had a pay raise since 2007 and have had to buy their own classroom supplies. They also deserve credit for some of the success Womack has experienced.
The additional $22,000 doesn’t overburden school finances and it wouldn’t provide much of a raise if spread among all teachers in the system.
But it appears questionable against the backdrop of a down economy and a school system populated by so many poor students. When teachers, parents and other interested parties compare Womack’s pay against other superintendents, it heightens the furor.
She is now among the top 18 superintendents in the state for pay and No. 1 in the Shoals.
The most dramatic contrast comes by considering she earns $146,000 to lead a system of 4,325 students compared to the Lauderdale County superintendent, who receives $99,820 to oversee 8,554 students.
An observer can draw only one conclusion from the numbers. Either Womack is grossly overpaid or Lauderdale Superintendent Bill Valentine is grossly undercompensated.
Maybe the answer is somewhere in between.
Valentine said he declined a $12,000 raise in 2008 because the school employees had not received a raise. If that move makes Valentine look noble among the people under his supervision, how does Womack look? We hope the money will not cause teachers and parents to lose respect for her.
To Womack’s credit — with help from teachers and support personnel — Florence City Schools have made positive strides.
The superintendent arrived on the job just 2 1/2 years ago with the promise to make Florence schools No. 1 in the state within five years. If she can reach that lofty goal, she is worth whatever the school system can afford to pay her.
But as that five-year mark draws closer, the Board of Education should ensure the superintendent earns her generous salary.