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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Salaries holding steady for top school administrators

Top leaders at Washington’s second-largest school district will not receive a pay raise for the fourth year in a row.

Spokane Public Schools’ board still is scarred from a public scolding in 2010 when all top administrators received pay increases from 3 percent to 18 percent in the midst of a recession. The board voted unanimously this week to hold wages steady for at least one more year.

“That whole thing was crazy,” said Jenny Rose, Spokane Education Association president. “I love the change in philosophy. (Superintendent) Shelley (Redinger) is a breath of fresh air.”

Redinger has said school administrators, including herself, are paid well enough.

“Given the economic times that we are in, you’d be hard-pressed to find an administrator at the central office or in our schools who don’t feel fortunate for the positions they are in or the agency they work for,” said Kevin Morrison, district spokesman.

Many who work in the central office already make a six-figure income, or close, according the state schools database. However, a state audit in 2012 found the district spending on administration was below that of the state average and several other districts in the region.

“At the district office, we didn’t need raises at this point,” said Redinger, whose pay has stayed the same at $240,000 annually since she was hired in 2012.

The board’s vote freezes the salaries of 71 administrators. Principals are the one exception regarding administrative raises; that group will receive 1.5 percent pay increase for 2014-15, district officials said.

Since Redinger took charge, she’s been trying to reduce the layers of leadership so the people making decisions about the classroom aren’t so far removed from students, she said. For example, principals are often asked to help with curriculum decisions. Previously, those decisions were being made mostly by those who worked downtown.

“It used to be you moved to the district office for pay increases,” Redinger said. “We’ve shifted that. We have changed how the principals operate within the district; they move in and out of the district office to do work.”

District leadership plans to do a study to determine if there will be raises in 2015-16, said Tennille Jefferies-Simmons, chief human resources director.

This time, salaries will be determined by comparing the pay of administrators in Eastern Washington rather than the Puget Sound, where the cost of living is much higher.

“We feel we are very competitive and appropriate for our region,” said Deana Brower, a school board member. “I think it reflects our strong fiscal management as we look to direct more resources to our classrooms.”

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