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School chief disappointed with 5.1 percent raise

John Sanders will continue to earn less than superintendents in neighboring counties. But school board members say he requested too much.

By ROBERT KING

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 14, 2000


BROOKSVILLE -- The School Board agreed Tuesday to raise Superintendent John Sanders' salary to $97,500 -- a 5.1 percent increase that Sanders found "disappointing" considering the market rate for Florida school chiefs.

"I am (disappointed) because I am falling further behind," Sanders said, referring to his counterparts in neighboring districts.

According to a salary comparison he produced at the board's request, Sanders will be paid less than his counterparts in every county that borders Hernando, including smaller districts such as Citrus and Sumter.

Sanders recoiled when asked whether he might consider leaving Hernando County. But although he didn't welcome the question, he also would not rule out a better offer.

Sanders long has said he is underpaid. School chiefs in several districts similar in size to Hernando, and in some cases slightly smaller, are on pace to earn more than $100,000 next year.

Sanders came Tuesday with a request for $99,290, a figure that included a $4,000 supplement that he would receive only if he completes more job training.

Only two of the five board members -- Sandra Nicholson and Robert Wiggins -- found that acceptable. Board members John Druzbick and Jerry Milby preferred a figure in the $97,500 range.

School Board Chairman Jim Malcolm had argued for a raise no higher than the largest dollar amount given to a teacher, which was $3,262. The 5.1 percent raise is $4,748.

Malcolm said many school district employees have been disappointed with their pay raises.

Though the 1,000-member work force of teachers received an average raise of 6 percent, some of the most experienced and highest-paid teachers will get raises of 2.4 percent.

And Malcolm said he is sensitive to the fact that Sanders was seeking a $6,538 raise in a year when all employees are seeing their pay raises eroded by the fact that, for the first time in several years, they now must pay premiums for their individual health insurance.

A formal vote to finalize the salary increase was scheduled for late Tuesday night.

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