With a 4-3 vote, Richmond Community Schools’ board approved a 5% pay raise for building principals, assistant principals and Central Office administrators. 

The board conducted a special Dec. 18 meeting for nearly an hour. The topic had been on the board’s Dec. 13 regular meeting agenda but wasn’t voted upon then.  

Members Aaron Stevens, Nicole Stults, Brad Walton and Pete Zaleski cast yes votes, while nays came from Kristen Brunton, Kym Pickering and John Weber. 

Curtis Wright

Superintendent Curtis Wright said the three members who voted no said they needed more time to evaluate the information and felt they likely would be able to support raises in the spring. 

Wright said this year’s collective bargaining process with teachers took additional time, delaying discussions about administrator pay. 

After finalizing the teachers’ contract, Wright had proposed the raises to help retain and attract administrators. Traditionally, schools set teachers’ salaries first, followed by classified staff such as paraprofessionals and conclude with administrators. 

During their Nov. 27 meeting, the board had approved an average raise of 10% or $4,500 for teachers in their new contract, depending on their experience and education. 

Although he voted for that contract, Weber raised concerns about RCS’ future obligations.

After RCS’ teachers’ raises were approved, those with top seniority and effectiveness ratings started earning $419.82 per day. 

Before their raise was approved, administrators’ average daily rate was $396.90. Wright said he thought it was important to close that gap. 

Board members expressed trust in the leadership that he and his cabinet and building-level leaders are providing, Wright said.   

He said he was pleased that all building principals and all but one Central Office administrator returned for the 2023-24 school year, because there hadn’t been so much stability in previous years. 

Wright said that administrative stability leads to a healthy organization for teachers and staff, which means “student achievement is only going to increase.”

Although Wright said the trio voting no on administrators’ raises didn’t verbalize facilities expenses as a concern at that time, he understands that board members take their fiscal responsibilities seriously.

The board had watched a presentation about the district’s looming big-ticket needs at their Dec. 13 meeting. 

Some of those projects include at least $8 million for Hibberd Program Building, $3.5 million for heating/cooling at Dennis Intermediate and $1.2 million at Baxter, roof replacements for Test Intermediate and Richmond High School’s library and art wing, and exterior needs at Fairview Elementary for $500,000 to $700,000. That doesn’t include upcoming projects at sports facilities such as McBride Stadium or other ideas such as applied skills facilities and playground updates, public address and security camera systems, RHS locker and asphalt improvements. 

The board will aim to narrow its facilities project list and discuss cost implications at its 5:30 p.m. Jan. 10 work session in the administration building, 300 Hub Etchison Parkway. The public may attend.

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A version of this article appeared in the January 3 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.