Camden Superintendent's Pay Raise Under Fire

In this corner, we have 130 union members who haven’t had a contract in three years and haven’t gotten a raise in four years come July. And in the other corner, we have Camden schools' Superintendent Bessie LeFra Young who recently had her raise approved and contract renewed, according to the Courier Post. That makes her the eighth highest paid super in New Jersey making $226,600.

“No one should receive a contract until those units still bargaining have been negotiated," Claudia Cream, president of the Camden City Federation of School Administrators told the paper.

The pay increase came after the board voted to cut the budget by $7.2 million and 93 jobs, Interim Business Administrator David Shafter said. Still, the board approved Young’s three percent cost-of-living raise, $6,600, and renewed her contract for another three years, the paper reported.

What about the additional perks? Her annual $4,800 gas card (which Young does not use, according to Shafter) and $1,360 cell phone allowance for district calls weren’t hiked.

So, two N.J. Assembly members, Caroline Casagrande and Declan J. O’Scanlon Jr., took to the ring and asked Governor Corzine to veto the pay raise, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“In times of economic hardship, good leaders should set an example of shared sacrifice instead of keeping their hands out for personal benefit,” Casagrande and O’Scanlon said in a statement.

But, Young has sacrificed by using her own money for student activities and contributed to student scholarships,  she told the Inquirer.

Why shouldn’t she get her annual increase?

“Camden has made great strides we’re often not recognized for,” she  said, like improved standardized-test scores during her tenure and the budget was submitted on schedule for the first time in years.

Casagrande and O’Scanlon have a counter for those accomplishments—the fact Camden students struggle academically and perform below state average.

Still, Corzine’s spokesman Robert Corrales said the governor doesn’t have plans to revisit the issue of her raise.

“The language of her contract calls for a cost-of-living increase, and the board acted accordingly to cap the increase at three percent,” Corrales said.

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