Setting salaries for newly created positions has been difficult for Maricopa Unified School District.
The district had posted a job opening for a “Coordinator of Communications and Social Media,” and then had to increase the compensation to get more qualified candidates. Tuesday, the issue was a revisit of the proposed pay for a “Director of Facilities & Operations.”
Board member Torri Anderson was emphatic that the base salary range of $76,650-$89,051 was too high. The full compensation package would cost the district $95,800-$111,400.
“We need to prove to the public that we need this position,” she said. “To start out at the top is concerning me.”
MUSD had a facilities director before the recession and budget cuts. Anderson said the facilities/operations director position should be re-created, but the board should come back later and adjust the salary as they did for the communications coordinator.
“I could swallow $65,000-$75,000 as the range,” Anderson said.
Human Resources Director Tom Beckett said he compared all the salaries for facilities directors in the range of school districts with 5,000 to 10,000 students. He said the 2016 number showed the median starting salary of $67,000. But, he said, MUSD is competing for employees with districts that can pay over $80,000.
“I’m fairly confident that you all, just like I do, want to see the very, very best candidate,” he said. “To get that, we have some serious things that we need to be addressing at this point in time, and we need somebody who’s going to hit the ground running.”
Saying she had already received many phone calls about the salary, Anderson said she feared it would impact the yearly Auditor General’s report, saying MUSD overpays its administrators. “I don’t need that headache at the grocery store.”
Board member Joshua Judd said he, too, had received “a lot of push-back” from community members and staff over the proposed salary. He also said he was concerned about the broadness of the job description.
Superintendent Tracey Lopeman said the job does entail a lot. The director would be in charge of maintenance, custodial, grounds and safety such as installing appropriate locks and cameras.
“We’re positioning this to get some experience so that we are not starting at the entry level,” Lopeman said.
Board member Patti Coutré said she agreed with Beckett and Lopeman. “We have to put forth that investment to get a quality person.” She likened the position to putting in future infrastructure.
“Things are starting to fail on our new buildings that aren’t new anymore,” Coutré said. “
MUSD’s high school has already approached capacity. That and other growth indicators are signs the district may need new buildings in the next 5-10 years.
“I believe we are positioned right now with potentially coming to our voters asking for a bond issue for facilities,” Beckett said in making his case for hiring an experience facilities director.
Board members agreed the position is necessary.
“It’s definitely needed,” Board member Gary Miller said. “It’s definitely important to invest in the front end.”
Ultimately, Anderson and Judd were not convinced. They voted against the personnel line item in the 5-3 board approval.