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California Superintendant Declines Salary

Fresno School Superintendent Larry Powell is a reminder of what education should be about – selflessness and dedication.

I recall a survey conducted back in the US in 1998/99 that found that teachers spent an average of $448 of their own money on instructional materials and school supplies:

The survey conducted last summer by the National School Supply and Equipment Association — a trade group representing the school supply industry — found that teachers pay for 77 percent of the school supplies needed in their classrooms. The rest comes from the school, parent-teacher groups and other school funds.

Teacher expenditure would be even higher nowadays.  But when it comes to selflessness nothing can top the outstanding act of generosity and conviction by Larry Powell:

Fresno School Superintendent Larry Powell has agreed to give up $800,000 in salary that he would have earned over three years. Until his term expires in 2015, Powell will run 325 schools and 35 school districts with 195,000 students, all for less than what a starting California teacher earns.

“How much do we need to keep accumulating?” asks Powell, 63. “There’s no reason for me to keep stockpiling money.”

Powell’s generosity is more than just a gesture in a region with some of the nation’s highest rates of unemployment. As he prepares for retirement, he wants to ensure that his pet projects survive California budget cuts. And the man who started his career as a high school civics teacher, who has made anti-bullying his mission, hopes that his act of generosity will help restore faith in the government he once taught students to respect.

“A part of me has chafed at what they did in Bell,” Powell said, recalling the corrupt Southern California city officials who secretly boosted their salaries by hundreds of thousands of dollars. “It’s hard to believe that someone in the public trust would do that to the public. My wife and I asked ourselves, ‘What can we do that might restore confidence in government?’ “

Powell’s answer? Ask his board to allow him to return $288,241 in salary and benefits for the next 3 1/2 years of his term. He technically retired, then agreed to be hired back to work for $31,000 a year — $10,000 less than a first-year teacher — and with no benefits.

The media is riddled with terrible stories of teachers abusing their position and acting without integrity, it is so good to see a more positive story doing the rounds.

Thank you Mr. Powell for putting your convictions before your purse and your students before anything else.

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One Response to “California Superintendant Declines Salary”

  1. Superintendent Saves School District Money | Educationally Minded Says:

    […] first read about Larry Powell, Superintendent of Fresno, CA, schools, in a blog written by Michael G. I read this blog because he has several great news stories that he shares. Yes, he lives in […]

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