Granted, paying Austin ISD Superintendent Maria Carstarphen an extra $25,000 in bonuses this year would have only a negligible impact on the district’s budgetary woes. But, symbolically, the bonus stinks. (I am speaking not only as an employee of TSTA but also as an AISD parent and taxpayer.)
For one thing, Carstarphen can make a very nice living in Austin on her $275,000 base salary, while many of the district’s teachers (who are paid far less and don’t get fat bonuses) are taking extra jobs during the school year simply to make ends meet.
Moreover, the bonus comes as AISD is considering significant cutbacks to its basic educational programs, including teacher layoffs. One option discussed at last night’s board meeting would eliminate a planning period for middle and high school teachers, a step that would trim an estimated 90 to 300 teaching positions.
The superintendent has enormous responsibilities, but the teachers are the heart of the school district. They will determine if the superintendent meets her bonus criteria, which include higher student scores on standardized tests, improved attendance rates and boosting AISD’s accountability rating.
Maria Carstarphen can make long, impassioned speeches about educational quality, but the teachers – and their planning periods – help her deliver the goods.