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An Outrageous Raise or a Well Deserved Supplement? | Community Spirit

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An Outrageous Raise or a Well Deserved Supplement?
An Outrageous Raise or a Well Deserved Supplement?

DEKALB COUNTY, GA -- "I think it's more of the same, a slap in the face." That's how Kim Ault and other parents reacted Friday to a $73,000 pay hike for Interim DeKalb County School Superintendent Ramona Tyson.

Some are outraged that a school system that's $50 million in the red and racked by a recent scandal would even think of such a move.

But with a 7 to 1 vote, the DeKalb County School Board increased Tyson's salary by 44 percent.

"Given what she's taken us through, it's disingenuous if we were going to continue to pay her 50 cents on the dollar," said School Board Chairman Tom Bowen.

He points out that Tyson has been working at her old Deputy Superintendent's salary of $165,000 since taking over the top job last February.

She took over when previous Superintendent Crawford Lewis was suspended and then fired after being charged with corruption.

Lewis' salary was $255,000 when he got the boot.

Tyson's new salary would be $238,000.

Her temporary job that started out to be only about 6 weeks has now stretched into 10 months and is expected to last another 6 to 8 months until a permanent replacement is found next summer.

Bowen and other board members say Tyson deserves the full salary for doing the job much longer than anyone expected.

Parents at Friday's meeting were split on the issue.

"[For] the person that's making $7 or $8 an hour, trying to get their child to school and still [having] to pay taxes, it's not fair," parent Kim Ault said.

"She's doing the job," countered parent Ernest Brown. "I believe that she's simply deserving of the salary for the job that it entails."

Tyson thanked the board for giving her the full superintendent's salary for the next 18 months, one full year beyond the time a replacement is expected to be hired.

"If it changes and helps the DeKalb County School District, then call me the 'work horse' because I'm here to serve and serve well," she said.

Chairman Bowen said Tyson deserves the extra year's superintendent salary because she'll be helping to break in someone not familiar with DeKalb's issues.

"There's no one that could step in without any transition assistance and so she will be critical going forward transitioning the system over to the new superintendent," Bowen said.

One critical footnote: Tyson's raise isn't set in stone just yet thanks to a new state law.

It says any school system, like DeKalb's, that is furloughing teachers or cutting their pay must hold public hearings before raising the pay of any administrators.

Chairman Bowen expects the board to hold those public hearings next month before voting again on Tyson's new salary on Jan. 17.

He says Friday's preliminary vote was to nail down the terms of her new contract, which is expected to run from January 2011 to July 2012.