Call it a reward for a job well done, or call it asking for the moon. But less than a year into the job, school superintendent Wayne Alexander is asking his bosses for a substantial raise.
In documents sent recently to members of the Hernando County School Board, Alexander has requested a salary increase of nearly 14 percent, from $119,000 a year to $135,000.
Citing the soaring cost of fuel, he's also requesting a boost in his annual transportation allowance from $500 to $950, a two-year extension on his contract rather than the current one year and permission to teach college courses.
"I believe I did a very good job this year," he told the St. Petersburg Times on Thursday. "For a rookie, I believe I did a really good job."
Alexander, who started work in Hernando in August, made a point of saying his salary request was an opening bid, a starting point for his annual contract review scheduled for May 6. Given the current strains on the budget, he said, it's unlikely he'll get everything he's asking for.
But at one board member said Alexander's opening bid was unseemly, given the prospect of plummeting tax revenues and the prospect of deep state funding cuts.
"I was really, really surprised, I mean jaw-dropping surprised," said vice chairman Jim Malcolm. "I said, 'Man, you are going to regret the day you brought this forward.' "
In January, the board agreed to a 6.04 percent raise for teachers this year, with an extra day's work added to their calendar in exchange. Other staff and administrators got a 5.5 percent raise.
But no raises have been agreed to for next year, Malcolm said, and the superintendent's current contract entitles him to no more than what other administrators get.
He said Alexander's request to teach wasn't practical. "He shouldn't have the time," he said.
And the two-year contract extension wasn't in the county's best interests, Malcolm said. Under the current contract, Alexander is superintendent through the 2008-09 school year and can extend that annually by a year.
"From my perspective, it's not going to happen," he added. "You don't come in asking for a close to 14 percent raise when we have yet to negotiate raises for the forthcoming year. I told him that's not the way we do that around here."
Other board members could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.
But Alexander said the board should view his pay in comparison to other Florida districts of similar size, or the $135,000 contract offered to County Administrator David Hamilton.
"I'm the CEO of the largest (public) organization in the county," Alexander said.
Tom Marshall can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1431.