Dr. Steven Paine

Although the West Virginia Board of Education voted unanimously last week to give state School Superintendent Dr. Steve Paine a $4,170 raise, Paine refused it.

The raise, according to MetroNews, would have been equal to what classroom teachers have received the last two years. Paine did not receive a raise last year.

He was hired at an annual salary of $230,000 when he returned to the superintendent’s job in March 2017, MetroNews reported. His first stint was from 2005 to 2011.

The report said Paine did not ask for the raise, and he requested his increase not exceed the increase of educators.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, issued a press release criticizing the raise.

“I was shocked and outraged that the State School Board would deem it necessary and appropriate to grant a $4,100 pay raise to an employee that is already making $230,000 annually,” Carmichael said.

He continued, “I consider it a slap in the face to every teacher and school employee that an unelected board would unilaterally grant a pay increase to the highest paid employee in state education, which is nearly double what each teacher is to receive.”

MetroNews later reported Paine refused the raise. “I am deeply appreciative of the West Virginia Board of Education’s confidence in me and willingness to recognize the accomplishments we have realized over the past two years through hard work and the use of innovative strategies,” Paine said. “Unfortunately, the Board’s vote to provide me with a salary increase has become a distraction to the students of West Virginia and they deserve better.”

He added, “Until we are able to address the lack of certified teachers in our classrooms and only as we are able to provide competitive benefits to our educators — inclusive of adequate pay and affordable health care — will I consider accepting a salary increase.”

After Paine’s announcement, Carmichael issued another release commending Paine. “His statement is correct in that our focus must be on providing a competitive compensation package to our professional educators,” Carmichael said. “His decision demonstrates real leadership with concrete steps.”

However, Carmichael continued to criticize the state Board of Education, which he said “took this unsolicited action to enhance the State Superintendent’s salary and to place Dr. Paine in such an awkward position.”

“I believe this is symptomatic of the Board’s consistent pattern of mistakes and misalignment with the steps that are necessary to enhance student success in West Virginia,” Carmichael said. “My hope is that future actions by this Board will reflect a dedication to students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers.”

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