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Feedback from our readers.

Misery Loves Company

Thank you, DA, for the recent salary survey article ("A Salary Recession for School Administrators," September 2010) based on the ERS's 37th national survey of salaries and wages in public schools.  e article confirms the feedback we are receiving at AASA: The pain caused by the recession is being shared by all.

The drop in average salary increases for superintendents from the 2008-2009 school year to the 2009-2010 school year is noticeable and signals a trend that will undoubtedly continue into the 2010- 2011 school year.

Sharing what is happening in Los Angeles and states like New Jersey and Idaho is valuable information. Misery loves company, and all administrators that are making financial sacrifices because of the economic conditions in their districts need to know that they are not alone. Administrators are deserving of the pay they get and, in spite of public opinion, it is not as high as it should be when compared to the private sector. Nevertheless, your article provides evidence that administrators will bite the bullet and lead by example when the situation warrants it.

Dan Domenech, executive director, American Association of School Administrators

Necessary Change for Counselors

In response to Christopher Griffin's Student Counsel column ("High School Counselors Take it on the Chin," September 2010), the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) agrees with many of the conclusions of the Public Agenda study: More school counselors are needed, and existing counselors should not be overloaded with non-counseling duties preventing them from spending time guiding students to academic success and postsecondary education.

ASCA believes the study's findings can serve as a wake-up call that could bring about necessary changes. The study points out that "young people who characterized their interactions with counselors as anonymous and unhelpful were less likely to go directly from high school into a postsecondary program."

Therefore, strong relationships between school counselors and students can lead to more students seeking postsecondary education. This is a chance to provide a positive perspective on the problems and to highlight the need for supporting school counselors, rather than eliminating their positions because some consider them to be ineffective.

Pat Nailor, president, American School Counselor Association

No Money Left for School Safety?

After reading the cover story in the September 2010 issue of DA ("Keeping Schools Safe During Challenging Times"), I can offer some advice. As a former head of security for one of the 25 largest school districts in the country, I was told 10 years ago to start doing more with less. I did. Security people understand budgets cutbacks, and we are willing to accept our hits like the other department heads. Administrators who think they can eliminate their security or law enforcement staff and expect the local police to pick up the slack need to talk to the local police first as they have had the same budget cuts you have.

Just because your budget has been reduced does not mean you can accept unsafe schools. Here are some things you can do:

  • Prioritize your new security plan. Of the 25 to 1,000 items you must consider to thoroughly secure your school, you will only be able to deliver the top 5 or 10. In order to do this, form a crisis management team of three to five people, list all the challenges you have, and start at the top. Fund these items first, then move down your list.
  • Ask for parent assistance. I served as a playground assistant several times to help the school staff monitor kids during recess and lunch. Schools no longer have all the staff they need to do things like that, and we parents need to be willing to assist our principal.
  • Finally, if things go bad and the school becomes unsafe, leaders must be prepared to go back to the level of security they had, and the community must back them on this.

What we need are good, sound ideas, not ideas that sound good. As a leader, you will receive a lot of suggestions, and this is where I suggest hiring a recognized professional or joining a school safety organization that can guide you.

Peter Pochowski, executive director, National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officials