On April 5, the Sedona-Oak Creek School District Governing Board voted to raise teachers’ salaries. Rewarding teachers with more pay is by all means right and proper, after all, it is these dedicated professionals who educate our children and prepare them for their future.

Every full-time teacher received a $2,000 bump in pay and support staff got a bump of $0.29 per hour. Yet these raises did not come from increased state funding nor from discovery of a nest egg in the district’s budget, but from cutting 20 good teachers and staff members next year to provide raises to others.

Ten employees lost their jobs at Big Park Community School. West Sedona School cut six staffers. Sedona Red Rock High School cut four employees. Six teachers, two from each school, were cut.

Yet, inexplicably, the administrators whose decisions led to a toxic environment where firing teachers makes fiscal sense also got raises, totaling $9,000.

That’s $9,000 that could have gone to hardworking teachers in the classroom who have direct influence over our children’s education, yet it went to administrators who have contributed to the public relations debacle of the last two years. These are the same administrators who:

  • Added a second principal at West Sedona School to force Principal Lisa Hirsch to resign. When that scheme achieved its goal, administrators miraculously decided a second principal post was a fiscally dumb experiment and eliminated the post, but not until spending needless thousands on salaries for the second principal and support staff.
  • Improperly hired a public relations firm and, once caught fabricating legal documents about the process, admitted fault publicly, but not before paying the firm $20,000.
  • Proposed closing Big Park Community School before hundreds of parents and residents filled the Sedona Performing Arts Center to tell the board, “No, no, you don’t.” How many thousands of dollars were wasted on researching and preparing a proposal vastly opposed by parents and taxpayers?
  • Created an environment where parents feel pulling their kids out of taxpayer-funded public school is a better option.

Do these administrators need another $9,000 in raises for a job well done? Or should they have their salaries slashed and positions eliminated, with cuts that could be passed onto teachers, used to pay for books and in-class materials?

How many teachers and staff would still be employed next year if it weren’t for these financial debacles topped off with the $18,500 raise the board gave Superintendent David Lykins in May 2015 despite his mismanagement?

How can the superintendent look any soon-to-be-unemployed teacher in the eye and say, “Sorry we’re letting you go, we just don’t have the money”?

You had the money, Mr. Lykins, and you wasted it.

If the Governing Board is going to rob Peter to pay Paul, go a step further and use Lykins’ $120,000 salary toward searching for a new leader with a modicum of financial wisdom.

Next year, more kids will fill in fewer classrooms with fewer teachers and support staff while administrators will find new and creative ways to waste taxpayer funds on exercises doomed to fail.