School board votes down CFO raise

Published 5:04pm Saturday, August 3, 2013

Fairness of salary was the topic of discussion during a recent special call Selma City School Board meeting, following Tuesday’s regular work session. When it came time to vote on the approval of a $4,000 raise requested by Selma City School’s chief school finance officer Grindal Harris, the board turned down the request  — but only after a hefty debate.

When Harris’ contract was up for renewal she negotiated, through the school board attorney Katy Campbell, and asked that her salary be increased by $4,000 from $76,000 to $80,000, and for some phrasing in her contract that limits vacation benefits to be removed.

The board discussed the request during the last work session, but ultimately decided they needed more time before they made their decision.

Board members Dr. Kirit Chapatwala and Brenda Obomanu argued Harris shouldn’t receive the raise because it simply wasn’t fair, especially when comparing her compensation to other CSFO’s in similar sized systems.

Both Obomanu and Chapatwala shared facts and figures with the other board members showcasing how others in Harris’ role in similar-sized systems throughout the state make much less than $80,000. In fact, Chapatwala said Harris’ current salary — $76,000 — is already on the high end for many of those systems.

“Lauderdale County has 8,587 students and that CSFO makes $77,000,” Obomanu

added. “And then here we are, we’ve given her a raise one year, two years, and automatically she will get one this year because (educators in) the whole state of Alabama are going to get a two percent raise. And you want to give her $4,000 on top of that — where’s the fairness? She’s supposed to do a good job. Her job performance should not be based on how much she makes.”

With the state-wide raise Harris’ salary will increase by $1,520 to $77,520.

After debating whether or not to approve the raise, Harris told the board there would be no “love loss” if her negotiated contract was turned down.

“I know I can’t do this by myself. I wouldn’t even have a job if it weren’t for the teachers and the children,” Harris said. “I don’t want you to think that I’m being selfish. I appreciate all of the staff that we have.”

Superintendent Gerald Shirley made a recommendation to go forward with Harris’ original contract — with neither the raise nor the removal of the phrase regarding vacation benefits.

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