The Wichita School District will add a new administrator, school officials announced. The deputy superintendent will report to recently-minted superintendent, Alicia Thompson.
The decision isn’t going over well with the local teacher’s union. Steve Wentz, president of the United Teachers of Wichita, said the decision is inconceivable and completely unacceptable.
“The district is hemorrhaging teachers and the response is to hire another doctor to give a second opinion?” he asked on the union’s Facebook page.
Lawmakers infused public schools with $195 million in new funding last session. Wichita USD 259 received an additional $17 million more in general state aid funding, but the Kansas Supreme Court recently deemed that number too little. The Wichita district was one of the plaintiffs in the school funding suit.
Rep. John Whitmer, a Wichita Republican, said the decision to add another administrator and to double the size of an internet provider’s contract is a microcosm of the school financing debate at the school board level.
“The internet thing for me is a perfect illustration of the whole school funding thing in a nutshell,” he said.
School officials told the board of education that the were having issues with intermittent service. Instead of going to the service provider and demanding better service, the board approved another $270,000 contract for the existing internet provider.
“We just throw more money at it,” Whitmer said. “That’s their solution to everything. It’s the same with the lawsuit. We’re not seeing improved student performance. We’re not seeing college readiness with the ACT scores. So what do they want? Just throw more money at it. That’s the mindset of the education establishment.”
District officials haven’t said how much they’ll pay the deputy superintendent. According to the Kansas Open Gov Database, the previous district superintendent earned a salary of $267,000 and boasted a stable of four assistant superintendents who were each paid between $130,000 and $150,000 annually. The Eagle reports there are currently 14 people working in the central administration office as well as an executive director of secondary schools and an executive director of elementary schools.
The new deputy superintendent will serve as the second-in-command at the district and be responsible for the administrative supervision of elementary and secondary schools, curriculum and instruction, special education, Title I and student support services.
Thompson told the paper the leadership position is critical in order to accomplish the results the district needs.
“Additional organizational changes will occur as the work to align our system continues, but those decisions haven’t been made yet,” she told the paper.
Taxpayers can be pardoned for asking what that will cost. If history is any indication, it will be expensive.