Superintendent’s sign deals a low blow — and a misleading one!

The SC/TA is objecting to this sign, posted by the School District administration before Tuesday’s historic teacher’s rally. It gives viewers the misleading impression that Sarasota’s teachers are the state’s best paid.

Our superintendent knew that hundreds of teachers and staff were going to picket the School Board office on Tuesday evening of this week. So Todd Bowden had a taxpayer-funded custodian take time during the workday to put up this on the marquee sign visible on U.S.41:

“We have the best paid teachers in Florida.”

When you see this, of course, you’ll assume our teachers here are the state’s best paid. And that may lead you to ask, “so why are our teachers picketing?”

This is what our superintendent wanted you to think.

So I started pulling data off of the Department of Education website. I found that our superintendent’s sign was simply not true – at least for 2013 through 2016, the latest year there is data available. We were not the highest paid teachers in the state.

We asked the district administration for the data they used to make the conclusion they had posted on the sign. Here’s what we received from Joe Binswanger: “Please note that the marquee did not say ‘highest in the state’ as your request references, but rather ‘best paid.’ This conclusion was made when considering the total compensation package Sarasota teachers receive as compared to other districts, including longevity and benefits.”

This means our district administration expects us to believe that they sat down Tuesday afternoon, pulled salary and benefits and retirement information for all of Florida’s 67 school districts, and compared them? Sorry, but no such data exists.

Our superintendent put that sign up to belittle our teachers and staff, and diminish the validity of our wonderful rally on Tuesday. He was trying to make our teachers look like greedy beggars, by asking for better pay.

What superintendent would do that to their teachers? Wilma Hamilton would never have done that. Gary Norris would never have done that. Gene Witt would never have done that. Lori White would NEVER have done that. This shows you the character of our present superintendent.

— Pat Gardner, president of the Sarasota/Classified Teachers Association (SC/TA)

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