In light of the state’s economic crisis, Chandler Unified School District Superintendent Camille Casteel has elected to donate her planned $8,525 pay increase to the Chandler Education Foundation during the upcoming school year.
Casteel’s 4.87 percent pay increase and multiyear contracts were approved in May 2008, before the state’s budget deficit problems.
“I refuse to accept an increase in this environment,” Casteel said Monday. “The Chandler Education Foundation will put the money to good use. I think that’s the right thing to do.”
Casteel’s salary will increase from $174,865 to $183,390 for the 2009-10 school year.
The Chandler Education Foundation is a fundraising partner for the Chandler district. The foundation provides scholarships and grants to teachers and helps out with early childhood education and college-bound programs, things that wouldn’t otherwise be funded.
A call to the foundation was not immediately returned Monday.
Unlike surrounding districts, the Chandler district is not laying off any teachers at this time. But Chandler teachers will not receive any pay raises for the upcoming school year, said district spokesman Terry Locke.
“She (Casteel) just didn’t feel it’s appropriate considering the state of the budget and the fact that no other teachers in the state are getting any pay increases,” Locke said. “That was her lead.”
He added Casteel’s pay increases have typically followed what teachers receive.
“Hopefully, the economy turns around, and we can all take a sigh of relief,” Casteel said.
Legislators are working to address a possible $3.3 billion shortfall next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Casteel is in her 13th year as superintendent. She has worked in the district for 38 years, starting as a first-grade teacher in 1971.
The Chandler school board approved Casteel’s reduction in salary April 8.
Casteel authorized the district’s payroll department to reduce her contract and donate that amount as a biweekly payroll deduction to the Chandler Education Foundation, from June 30, 2009, to June 30, 2010.
The board first discussed the issue during a closed executive session on March 26, Locke said.
The school board also approved extending Casteel’s contract an additional year, to June 30, 2011. Casteel requested the contract extension.
The Chandler district is anticipating hiring 70 new teachers to accommodate an expected 1,000 new students for the upcoming school year. Many of the new students are expected to be kindergarten and first grade, Locke said.
“Even though the housing market has come to a standstill, there are a lot of young families that have young children,” Locke said.
Chandler has 39 schools and 37,000 students.