The Winthrop School Committee’s (WSC) voted to raise Assistant Superintendent of Schools Lisa Howard’s salary from $105,000 to $120,000 per year.
Howard’s contract was set to expire so the WCS voted 3-2 to approve a four year contract that will pay Howard $113,000 until the end of Fiscal Year 2013 and $120,000 until 2016.
School Committee member Todd Sacco and Melissa Polino voted against the pay raise for Howard. Members Gary Skomro, Bill Holden, and Mary Alice Sharkey voted for the pay raise. School Committee members Peter Gill and Brian Perrin abstained from voting. Gill is the father of Lisa Howard.
Sacco said it’s just another example of the WSC putting salaries ahead of students.
“I want to enlighten the public on the committee’s budget priorities,” said Sacco. “In my opinion the priorities are messed up because the kids are getting nothing. Where are the art programs? Where are the real SAT prep courses? The public deserves to know how liberal the WSC is when it comes to paying more for salaries.”
Sacco said that while Howard may be a qualified educator he’s not sure the position is necessary.
“We never had an Assistant Superintendent in all my years here,” he said. “I would be more comfortable giving her a 2 percent increase and have her return as Pupil Personnel Director.”
In the same meeting during a subcommittee session, Sacco made a motion to have the schools pay for field trips so all students could attend regardless of their ability to pay. That motion was defeated 5-2.
“It would have cost the schools $9,000 for a program all students would benefit from,” said Sacco. “It always seems when it comes to salaries and raises we find the money but when it comes to the kids we can’t.”
Sacco said his ire isn’t directed at Howard personally but at the budget process and a culture he has deemed fiscally irresponsible.
“If we are going to come out of the bottom third in the state in SAT and MCAS scores we have to invest in programs that will get us there,” he said. “We’ve been told for too long that the way to improve the schools is through raises and administration costs while students get the crumbs. Things are getting worse, not better.”
Superintendent John Macero said the pay increase wasn’t a raise for Howard but simply a way to bring the position up to the same pay scale as other Assistant Superintendents in the region.
“We looked at other districts and the pay is in the $120,000 to $130,000 range,” he said. “Lisa (Howard) has been an integral asset. He work overseeing Special Needs education in the Town has resulted in Winthrop being ranked number one in special education.”