1. Archive

Pinellas superintendent hasn't earned pay raise

Re: Howard Hinesley's proposed pay raise to $125,000.

Not only do I believe Mr. Hinesley should not get a raise, he should be dismissed from his duties.

The School Board has become another mindless government bureaucracy, not meeting the needs of the people it serves. At board meetings, school officials continually condescend to the pleas of concerned parents and students over many issues. Their aloof manner has caused, for example, schools to be built at bad locations, environmental issues avoided (cutting down trees), endangering students (major traffic areas near schools). Some of these snafus could be avoided if they would use a modicum of gray matter between their ears _ ears that should be listening to the concerns of the public.

Mr. Benjamin has stated the need to raise Mr. Hinesley's salary to a level competitive with other districts. I challenge that thinking. A nationwide advertisement for superintendent at a salary level of $75,000 to $90,000 would bring hundreds of resumes from qualified administrators for this coveted position.

If Mr. Hinesley and the four board members who voted for the $11,432 raise feel they are undercompensated, I suggest they test the waters outside Pinellas County. Let's play poker with this gang and call their bluff. What can we lose?

Mark Messner, Indian Rocks Beach

Re: School superintendent pay raise.

The school superintendent is the chief executive officer of the largest business in Pinellas County. Yes, the school system is a business and should be operated as one. Its business is to teach students how to exist in the real world.

The head of any business is given pay increases, bonuses or greater benefits based on his performance. In the case of the salary increase for Superintendent Hinesley, the board stated that the increase was necessary in order for him to be paid at the same scale as the other county superintendents or else the perception might be that he is "not as good as they are." It said that he might even leave if he does not receive this increase.

What has Superintendent Hinesley done to deserve an increase? Has he been responsible for less crime in the schools? For increasing student college SAT scores? For decreasing school costs? For increasing the morale of students and staff? He has not significantly affected any of these areas.

School systems traditionally have protected themselves from outside criticism and have not been concerned with efficient operation. They operate in this way because if anyone questions their actions, they state that our children will suffer if they do not get their way. The increase that the board wishes to give to Superintendent Hinesley is based on only one parameter. They are paying the increase for ego, not for performance.

Hopefully, the members of the board will see the error of their ways and give the superintendent neither the increase nor the exorbitant benefit package.

Paul Schatz, Palm Harbor

Re: "Salary under fire: School Board will survey other school districts before deciding on a raise for Howard Hinesley."

The Pinellas County School Board is completely out of touch. To suggest giving Superintendent Howard Hinesley a raise in salary of 10.06 percent (from $113,568 to $125,000) plus extra benefits is ridiculous. The School Board doesn't even know how much money will be available for the next year's school budget. The board members appeared surprised by the uproar. They tried to raise the reasoning that Pinellas County is the eighth-largest school system in the state and Mr. Hinesley wasn't being paid the eighth-highest salary in the state.

Last time I looked, Pinellas County school teachers weren't making the eighth-highest salaries in the state. Board member Lee Benjamin said, "I think that is clouding the issue." As far as I am concerned we are still talking about tax dollars regardless of whether they go to a raise for a superintendent or a raise for a teacher.

Board member Barbara Crockett, who proposed the raise, said the reason for the uproar was the term "raise." She thinks that if the raise had been called a "salary adjustment" there wouldn't have been a problem. Changing terms doesn't change what they tried to do.

The effort resulted in a postponment of the raise until the districtwide survey is made. The taxpayers have spoken and will be heard again, even after the survey.

Joseph A. Toumey, Palm Harbor