Car Wars

March 24, 2008 1 min read

Tensions are high in the nation’s fourth largest school district. Unionized teachers in the Miami-Dade district are charging that administrators, led by 2008 AASA Superintendent of the Year Rudy Crew, are exacting an excessive cost on the school’s already stretched budget. Specifically, they point to reports showing that 413 district officials earn in excess of $100,000 a year and that 31 employees have district owned-cars (ranging from Crews’ 2007 GMC Yukon’ to, oddly, a 1998 Chevy Monte Carlo valued at $645). Meanwhile, schools are facing some $200 million cuts over the next year, and teachers are in a contractual battle over health insurance premiums.

“In my mind, it’s about equity and priority,” said Shawn Beightol, a science teacher in the school district interviewed by The Miami Herald. “You’ve got people who are being taken care of really well at the top. The people at the bottom are pretty much slave labor.”

Business experts, however, have come to the defense of Crew and his administration, citing comparable salaries at businesses the size of the Miami-Dade district, which employs over 50,000 people. “This is a large and very complex business,” said William Werther, professor of business at the University of Miami."The company cars, the administrative salaries: None of these things stand out to me.”

This doesn’t diffuse the district’s teachers, who are incensed that they’re being asked to pay insurance premiums while administrators get new cars. “If they’re having a budget crisis, this kind of spending is inappropriate,” said one teacher at a district middle school. “Even if it was one car, one would be inexcusable.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.