Kirk Seminoff's Pivot Point

Community engagement editor Kirk Seminoff blogs about news and issues in Wichita and Kansas.

Pivot Point

There’s outrage over the superintendent’s raise — just aim it where it’s deserved

By Kirk Seminoff

November 20, 2017 12:24 PM

Outrage is being misplaced over Wichita schools superintendent Alicia Thompson receiving the average pay increase that district teachers received last week in their new contract.

Yes, it’s absolutely a bad look. A superintendent in her fifth month on the job gets the same raise — 6.05 percent — that the average teacher has been waiting for after years of small pay bumps because of a lack of state funding.

But don’t blame Thompson. Just like anyone who negotiates a salary — from millionaire athletes to the teenager asking for a raise at his first job — a worker should attempt to get as much compensation as possible from their employer. If the company is willing to pay it, more power to the employee.

So any outrage aimed at Thompson, who will receive $14,520, should instead go to the school board.

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Back in February, school board lawyers negotiated a contract with Thompson promoting her from assistant superintendent to superintendent. It contained a clause that called for a pay increase equal to the percentage of the average bump in any new teacher contracts.

It did not, however, say how long Thompson had to be in the job before the clause kicked in.

Blame the board’s lawyers back in February for not recognizing that the state’s school funding case was in limbo and might — a big might back then — bring more money to the district. Enough money for 2017 teacher raises and a superintendent raise after a few months of work.

Should Thompson take any heat? Not much. Again, it’s a bad look that could only be made better by Thompson saying she won’t take the raise or will instead put it back into district programs — something she’s under no obligation to do.

But the school board should keep a minimum service clause in mind the next time a new superintendent’s contract is negotiated.

A pay raise approved for Wichita teachers means a pay raise for the district’s top administrator. Superintendent Alicia Thompson will make an additional $14,520 a year, bringing her base annual salary to $254,520. Her total financial package after


Kirk Seminoff: 316-268-6278, @kseminoff