School superintendent turns down raise after criticism

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The head of West Virginia's school system is turning down a raise after criticism from the state Senate president.

West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steven Paine in his office | credit: WSAZ

West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steven Paine announced Thursday that he would not accept any increase to his current $230,000 salary until other education issues are addressed.

Republican Senate President Mitch Carmichael issued a statement earlier Thursday slamming the $4,100 raise as "unwarranted and unnecessary."

The state Board of Education has already approved the salary increase.

Paine says he appreciated the board's decision but said that the raise has become a distraction for students. He said the school system must first address a shortage of teachers and other problems before he would be willing to accept a raise.

Below is the full statement from Dr. Paine:

“I am deeply appreciative of the West Virginia Board of Education’s confidence in me and willingness to recognize the accomplishments we have realized over the past two years through hard work and the use of innovative strategies. Unfortunately, the Board’s vote to provide me with a salary increase has become a distraction to the students of West Virginia and they deserve better.

At this time, I am not willing to accept a salary increase. Until we are able to address the lack of certified teachers in our classrooms and only as we are able to provide competitive benefits to our educators – inclusive of adequate pay and affordable healthcare – will I consider accepting a salary increase.

Our focus needs to be on the upcoming school year and working together to move public education forward. I am more determined than ever to roll up my sleeves and work hard to provide every West Virginia student with the education they deserve.”