Portland school board members signed off Monday on more than a 25 percent raise for Superintendent Carole Smith. The increase puts Smith at the top of Oregon’s public school pay scale.
Smith’s new contract boosts her salary from $193,000 to $247,000. It was approved by a vote of 5-to-2.
Supporting board members say if they had to hire a new superintendent, they’d have to offer in that range. And they say Smith’s record of raising graduation rates and narrowing achievement gaps has been good for Portland.
Several teachers and parents testified against the pay increase - saying that money would be better spent on restoring programs that have suffered under budget cuts.
Dominic LeFave teaches special education at Wilson High School.
“Frankly, I just think it’s horribly irresponsible for you to brandish this enormous raise for the superintendent, when our schools are in this shape,” LeFave said.
The two dissenting board members say they would support a smaller pay raise.
Board member Greg Belisle voted for the raise. He says the big bump made up for years when Smith didn’t get raises.
“While, if you look at the actual increase in a one-time, it is an extraordinary amount, yes,” Belisle conceded. “But it is because it has been artificially depressed - partly because of state funding - over the past seven years.”
Smith will earn $20,000 a year more than Oregon’s chief education officer, and $50,000 more than the superintendents of Beaverton and Salem-Keizer - the state’s next largest districts.
Supporters say they looked at national comparisons through the Council of Great City Schools. Smith’s salary of $247,000 is in the middle.
Carole Smith expressed appreciation after the board vote, and says she’s interested in what’s in store for the next three years.