High-level salary hikes at CMS raise questions

Despite giving three high-level administrators pay hikes topping $20,000 a year, Superintendent Peter Gorman says he'll save more than $100,000 a year with a staff shakeup announced Tuesday.

The savings come from cutting one central-office job, and from the fact that two administrators who got raises are replacing officials who were earning more.

Gorman and the school board, which Tuesday introduced a motion to increase board members' part-time pay by about $13,000 a year, are likely to continue to face public wrath over big raises in hard times.

“I say suck it up like the rest of us. I'll loan you my scissors so you can clip coupons to buy groceries,” said one of the milder comments posted with an online story on proposed school board raises.

And the audience at Tuesday's board meeting – mostly CMS parents and faculty who came for other matters – applauded when board member Larry Gauvreau berated Gorman for paying top officials too much.

Gorman told the board his plan would save $108,000. The Observer asked for details Wednesday. The numbers provided by CMS confirm the savings for the handful of jobs Gorman focused on.

But the salary shuffle is likely to raise more questions. For instance, Gorman relieved two high-ranking administrators of large parts of their jobs without changing their pay. Chief Academic Officer Ruth Perez and former school safety chief Ralph Taylor, whose combined pay totals more than $263,000 a year, now head an new dropout prevention push. Gorman has provided no specifics on the effort.

“If we're going to see dramatic improvement in this area, especially as academic standards and graduation requirements continue to increase, we need a top-level executive focused full time on this issue and this issue alone,” Gorman said in a statement.

Associate Superintendent Ann Clark, who picked up Perez's supervisory duties, got a $22,100 raise, to $169,600 a year.

CMS law enforcement director Bud Cesena, who makes $80,100 a year and supervises 25 people, picks up 180 campus security officers from Taylor. Spokeswoman Nora Carr said Wednesday his salary hasn't changed. Cesena said he's meeting today with new Chief Operating Officer Hugh Hattabaugh to discuss his new duties.

Hattabaugh, who had been in charge of CMS's north learning community, and Monique Gardner-Witherspoon, a CMS administrator who took his place, both got raises Tuesday but are making less than their predecessors. Gardner-Witherspoon's pay rose by $29,800, while Hattabaugh gets an additional $26,000 plus the chance at a performance bonus up to almost $17,000.