Fresno School Superintendent Larry Powell has agreed to give up $800,000 in salary that he would have earned over three years. Until his term expires in 2015, Powell will run 325 schools and 35 school districts with 195,000 students, all for less than what a starting California teacher earns.
"How much do we need to keep accumulating?" asks Powell, 63. "There's no reason for me to keep stockpiling money."
Powell's generosity is more than just a gesture in a region with some of the nation's highest rates of unemployment. As he prepares for retirement, he wants to ensure that his pet projects survive California budget cuts. And the man who started his career as a high school civics teacher, who has made anti-bullying his mission, hopes that his act of generosity will help restore faith in the government he once taught students to respect.
"A part of me has chafed at what they did in Bell," Powell said, recalling the corrupt Southern California city officials who secretly boosted their salaries by hundreds of thousands of dollars. "It's hard to believe that someone in the public trust would do that to the public. My wife and I asked ourselves, 'What can we do that might restore confidence in government?' "
Powell's answer? Ask his board to allow him to return $288,241 in salary and benefits for the next 3 1/2 years of his term. He technically retired, then agreed to be hired back to work for $31,000 a year — $10,000 less than a first-year teacher — and with no benefits.
Kudos to Powell for literally putting his money where his mouth is to make sure that his schools can continue to give students and parents what they need. It's pretty selfless to give up that kind of money in this economy in order to help restore faith in the school system. Many people talk about what should be done to fix schools, and declining inflated administrator salaries can work. We wonder if any other superintendents will follow suit. Would you?
Read more at MSNBC.
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