July 24, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Manhattan: Big pay hikes for administrators, achievement down

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USD 383 Manhattan says average teacher salaries increased 3.1% in the 2019-20 school year to $50,779, but some district administrators received increases at least three times as much.  Student achievement, meanwhile, has dropped over the years and is much lower than parents are led to believe in Kansas.

Superintendent Marvin Wade’s pay of $208,569 increased 3.3% the second-highest paid employee, Eric Reed, got a 14.7% increase to $131,722.  The district only provided generic position titles for many employees, like ‘administrator’ and ‘manager’ but his LinkedIn profile lists his as Assistant Superintendent.

Other administrators receiving double-digit increases include Roger Christian (11.8% to $125,010), Michael Dorst (32.8% to $119,700), Jeanne Disney (25.7% to 113,647), Kathryn Stitt (16.7% to 103,271), Jaime Armendariz (11.1% to $102,359), Vickie Kline (16.4% to $102,055), Andrea Tiede (22.2% to $101916), Deborah Nauerth (11.1% to $92,463), Cleion Morton (13.9% to $91,376), and Lucas Shrivers (10.8% to $87,274).

Many other administrators and at least one manager received increases that were more than twice the percentage of the average teacher.

The complete $51.6 million payroll listing is at KansasOpenGov.org.

Non-teaching staff grows 4 times as fast as enrollment

USD 383 had 6,785 fulltime equivalent students enrolled in the 2020 school year or about 254 more students than in the 2018 school year.  That’s about a 4% increase over two years.  At the same time, the USD 383 school board and superintendent held the number of classroom teachers flat (385.3 vs. 384.9) while adding 19% more non-teachers.  They increased the management staff by 13 positions and added 93 other non-teachers.

Classroom teachers are defined by the Kansas Department of Education and do not include Special Ed teachers or Reading Specialists.  Managers (as defined by the Sentinel’s parent company, Kansas Policy Institute) includes  superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals, assistant principals, directors, instruction coordinators, and curriculum specialists

The district actually reduced the number of classroom teachers between 2019 and 2020 but added more managers and other non-teachers.

Student achievement much lower than parents told

The windfall from court-ordered and legislator-approved funding increase is pushing employee and administrator pay higher, but student achievement declined over the last few years, and it’s lower than many parents may realize.

According to the 2015 state assessment, 45% of students tested (Grades 3-8 and 10) were on track for college and career in Math and 52% were on track in English Language Arts.  But the most recent assessment from 2019 shows only 40% are on track in Math and 45% in ELA.

Results for 10th-graders are even lower.

The 2019 state assessment results from the Kansas Department of Education shows 31% of 10th-graders in Manhattan are below grade level in Math; 32% are considered to be at grade level but still need remedial training to be on track for college and career, and only 36% are on track.

Results for English Language Arts – labeled here as Reading – are a bit better but still surprisingly low, with 25% below grade level.  37% are at grade level but they still need remedial training and just 38% are on track for college and career.

State average results are also much lower than parents and employers are led to believe by school districts.

41% of students are below grade level in Math, and 34% are below grade level in Reading.  Only about a quarter of the state’s 10th-graders are on track for college and career.

Legislator reaction

USD 383 Manhattan isn’t alone in providing larger increases for administrators than for teachers and having stubbornly low student achievement.  The Sentinel previously wrote about similar situations in Olathe, Gardner-Edgerton, and Blue Valley in Johnson County, Wichita, and Kansas City, and unfortunately, there are more examples coming.

Rep. Kristey Williams (R-Augusta) chairs the K-12 Budget Committee and she’s also a former teacher.  She says it’s disappointing when districts widen the pay gap between teachers and administrators.

“Good leaders should never take excessive raises when those percentage raises are not available for teachers.  Teachers are essential for the growth and well-being of our students and this is one of our great failures — spending less money in the classroom for teachers and for direct instruction as opposed to bigger budgets used for administrators. This is, in part, why reading and math scores are well below where we want them to be. Our priorities are wrong — it should be kids before CEOs.

Senator Tom Hawk (D-Manhattan) and Rep. Sydney Carlin (D-Manhattan) declined to comment.

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