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Superintendent makes sacrifice for education

With major budget cuts looming over school districts throughout Oregon, one superintendent, albeit one from one of the wealthiest districts in the state, has made an offer so generous it should serve to put all of that district’s employees on notice: Your response to any sacrifices you might be asked to make will be judged in the light of what he is willing to give up.

Superintendent William Korach is far from a newcomer to the district in the Portland suburbs. He has headed Lake Oswego schools for 24 years, a record unmatched in Oregon, and worked for the district for six years before that. As superintendent he is paid $140,000 a year to oversee the education of just over 6,000 students. He knows that $8 million in cuts from a $61 million budget – the current best guess of the district’s shortfall – would be felt by everyone.

Knowing all that, Korach offered earlier this week to make the district a deal it will have trouble refusing. He will take a pay cut at the end of the year, reducing his salary by half. His generosity goes beyond that, however. In addition to cutting his pay, he is willing to donate the remaining $70,000 back to the district, putting him in the position of working for no pay while freeing up enough money for the district to keep at least one teacher and one support staff member employed.

Korach hopes his generosity will set an example for others in the district, and surely it will. Faced with what their superintendent is willing to give up, teachers may find it more difficult to reject such proposals as salary cuts or an end to the district’s 6 percent contribution to their retirement package. It would be difficult, no doubt, for teachers to justify doing so in the face of what Korach has made clear he is willing to sacrifice.

We don’t expect school superintendents around Oregon to stampede to follow Korach’s suit. His financial situation is unique. What works for him is likely impractical for many if not all of the rest. Still, it is impossible not to be impressed by the generosity of what Korach has done and to recognize how much pressure it will put on everyone in the Lake Oswego school district to do their part.

–  The Bend Bulletin (Wescom News Service)

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