March 13, 2013

Miami-Dade Schools superintendent Carvalho gets extension, rejects big raise

Alberto Carvalho won a five-year contract extension and will get a raise, but said he wouldn’t accept one as large as he was offered.

Following hours of “uncomfortable” debate and an outpouring of support from politicians, community leaders and parents, the Miami-Dade School Board voted Wednesday to negotiate a five-year extension and a raise of up to $70,000 for Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

Carvalho, however, said after the board voted that he would accept far less. “Read my lips: I want to be the most underpaid public servant in this community,” said Carvalho, “compared to other public CEOs who manage smaller and larger [entities] — Oh I’m sorry there is none larger than us.”

Carvalho’s final salary will be negotiated by board Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman and does not need to return to the School Board to be finalized.

He is currently paid the $275,000 salary he received when in 2008 he became superintendent . He said he would negotiate a salary of up to $320,000, based on the value of the superintendent’s position. But Carvalho said he would reimburse the district for any portion of that salary increase that rose beyond the percentage value of the median teachers’ raise.

Wednesday’s 7-1 vote to extend Carvalho’s contract to June 2020 and give him a raise comes after a year in which the district won the Broad Prize, awarded to the nation’s highest-performing urban district, and received voter approval for $1.2 billion in bond-funded construction projects. Graduation rates also rose to a level higher than the state average, and the district took Florida’s top awards for individual teachers, assistant principals and principals.

With more than 100 people in attendance, more than two dozen speakers gushed about his successes and urged the board to keep him in Miami-Dade long-term by approving an item that proposed to have Tabares Hantman negotiate the extension and a “fair market value” salary with incentives.

“The way we treat this position is a reflection of what we believe about the school district and how important and difficult it is to manage 50,000 employees on a budget of $4 billion,” said board member Carlos Curbelo.

Delio Diaz, executive director of the Dade Association of School Administrators, compared Carvalho to a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. “Don’t test him out on free agency,” Diaz said.

Supporters included local mayors, Miami-Dade County Commission Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa and Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg, who said the “school board has never had a better superintendent.”

Board members ultimately approved a proposal by Susie Castillo to set a salary cap at $345,000, the base pay for Carvalho’s predecessor, Rudy Crew.

The lone dissenter, Marta Perez, said she favored an extension but would only support a raise equal to the increases given recently to teachers, who on average received a bump of close to 3 percent. Board member Lawrence Feldman was absent.

Carvalho, however, said later that he wouldn’t accept anything close to what was offered as a peak salary.

“Two things are absolutely certain beyond this point. One, is that the pope is Catholic,” said Carvalho, continuing on a series of pope jokes following Wednesday’s news that a new pope had been chosen. “The second one is that you’re going to have a superintendent.”

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