Teachers resigned to lower wages

Matthew Seltzer, band director at Yucca Junior High School, directs the band during class Wednesday at the school. (staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Ryan Lengerich: CNJ staff writer

While Clovis schools’ administrators are making more money than the teachers working for them, one teacher said that doesn’t bother him.

“I think, if anything, all of us need to be compensated more for our work,” said second-year Yucca Junior High music teacher Matthew Seltzer.

Seven administration personnel at Clovis Municipal Schools were among the 25 highest paid public employees in the city during the 2003 calendar year, records show.

The highest paid administrator was school Superintendent Neil Nuttall, who earned $97,192. Nuttall’s contract is voted on by the municipal school board and his salary is set by that board during budgeting early in the summer.

Certified teachers and administrators’ salaries are determined by a schedule that factors in experience and education. According to the 2003-2004 salary schedule, a first-year teacher earns about $27,000. A first-year elementary principal earns about $55,000.

Nuttall said the numbers can be deceiving. Teachers are signed to nine-month contracts while administrators sign 12-month contracts.

He said a few teachers have made the move from faculty to administration — with surprising results.

“Actually, I have had a principal or two who actually received less per day,” he said.

Nuttall said administrators are required to have a master’s degree in business administration. Others, such as Assistant Superintendent Ladona Clayton, are working toward their doctorate.

Education, training and added responsibilities also account for administrators’ higher pay scale, Nuttall said.

The majority of administrative employees have spent six to 10 years as a teacher prior to making the jump to administration. But Nuttall said financial gains generally are not the reason for wanting to change jobs.

“Those are the kind of leadership people who want to make a difference on a wider scale than what a teacher may want to do,” he said. “I don’t know a single administrator that is doing it for the money.”

As New Mexico improves the pay system to help teachers earn more money earlier in their career, Nuttall said that will “give them their just reward earlier.”

Seltzer, who has a bachelor’s degree from New Mexico State University and 10 years teaching experience prior to Clovis. He said he works 60-70 hours a week during the school year. He spends 30-40 more days preparing for the school year during the summer, he said.

But, Seltzer understands administrators’ qualifications often earn them more money.

“The higher you are up the ladder or anything you make more money,” he said. “I think the good teachers are resigned to that’s how it is and that nobody gets into the teaching profession trying to make a lot of money.”