Times are tough. Many economists are casting shadows of doubt over the so-called “economic recovery” of 2011, and college campuses across the country are feeling the squeeze of budget cuts. Nobody can blame the college for making sacrifices in the context of economic hardship, but what exactly are the college’s priorities?
Look at the college’s custodial staff. They’re some of the lowest paid employees on this campus even without losing a third of their salaries and half their benefits, and the college is proposing that the custodial contract cost should not increase over the next five years. This has pushed so many custodians to retirement that the college is currently operating at the minimum industry standard.
The college is making an effort to meet with custodial staff to address these issues, with some kind of decision being made at the Board of Trustees’ October meeting.
However, contrast that with the Board meeting in September. The Board approved a three percent salary increase for President Terry Calaway. This was met with little discussion, save Trustee Stephanie Sharp’s one opposing vote.
If we have to spend months figuring out whether custodians should be able to receive any increases for their already reduced contracts, shouldn’t a casual raise in the president’s salary inspire more than a few minutes of post-approval discussion?
To be fair, the Board of Trustees is trying to make up for giving Calaway a starting contract that undershot what they originally promised him. Nonetheless, this is awful timing. The college cut around $5 million for this fiscal year, and the American economy is not picking up anytime soon.
As Sharp pointed out, Calaway’s compensation is about equal to Kansas State University’s president, who heads a much larger public campus. Needless to say, a salary increase is nowhere near a priority at this point.
The college’s current budget plan is titled Prioritizing the Budget Strategically. The Board needs to adhere to that idea by taking an honest look at the college’s financial situation and addressing present priorities rather than making fiscal apologies for past actions.