Sedona AZ (November 6, 2015) – For more than a year the Sedona Oak Creek Unified School District has suffered through a barrage of negative publicity, bitter divisions between parents, teachers, administrators and strife within the SOCUSD Governing Board itself.
State-budget cuts in education combined with declining enrollment and a rapidly changing student demographic to create an almost perfect storm for the Sedona school district that must be weathered to preserve the viability of the district’s schools.
In the eye of the storm stands SOCUSD Superintendent Dave Lykins, navigating the troubled waters of the district and keeping schools on course.
One contentious issue plaguing our district is the belief Mr. Lykins accepted an $18,500 compensation increase while teacher salaries remained stagnant for years, a rumor he says is not true.
According to Mr. Lykins, when hired in 2011 it was based on the condition that the district would employ past SOCUSD Superintendent Dr. Nancy Alexander to mentor him over a two- year period and at the end of that period his compensation would be adjusted.
In 2013 when his contract was up for renewal, the mentoring ended. As his two-year contract expired the Governing Board offered him an increase that would compensate him in the $120,000 range.
Mr. Lykins did not accept the increase at that time because no increase was given to staff and teachers.
“I turned down the contract offer in spring of 2013 because we were not able to advance the salaries of the other employees in the district,” he said. “I told the board that I would not accept the additional compensation until their salaries were increased.”
In 2014 after a seven-year salary freeze, Mr. Lykins was able to increase staff salaries, despite funding cuts in education.
In order to adjust his compensation as promised by the board, the board unanimously approved an $18,500 compensation amendment, according to Mr. Lykins.
During the 2015 superintendent contract negotiations, the board approved a new contract locking in his compensation for three additional years at the same amount as the previous year at $120,000. There was no pay increase from the previous year.
In the 2014/2015 school year staff salaries were again increased.
In Arizona, the average tenure of a superintendent is 2.4 years. Mr. Lykins will be completing his fifth with the SOCUSD.
Mr. Lykins maintains his resolve to ensure equitable compensation for his teachers and staff.
“I will continue to work for fair and competitive salaries for all employees,” he said. “We have made progress in the last two years; however, we need to continue to strive in that area.”
Why don’t you try getting your facts straight Mr. Acosta before you write an article. The Red Rock News made it perfectly clear that Lykins accepted the raise while the teachers got nothing. Who are we to believe? You? Or our town’s newspaper? The school board has failed our students. Our school district ranks almost at the bottom academically in our state. All our schools are that close to failing. There is virtually no communication between the school board, the superintendent and the parents. Moral is at an all-time low and there is no money for the students. Thank God at least one community member raised $800 dollars for the students. The only one. No parents have ever stepped forward to help raise money for our schools. Not one. Our school board members do absolutely nothing. They meet in secret and plot against the women on the board. They break every conceivable rule including open meeting laws. At least concerned citizens got within inches of recalling one of the school board members known for his bullying tactics and megalomaniacal tendencies. I hope the News gets rid of the male members of the board come election time. The reporting on school issues by The News has been impeccable. They have maintained journalistic excellence in every so called “negative article” they have written. We need people who care and are not on chauvinistic power trips. Stop defending them Mr. Acosta. You know darn well Lykins accepted the raise while his poor teachers were left with nothing. The Red Rock News does not lie. You can’t make a pie with rotten apples.
Sandy, my article is accurate. When Lykins was hired he was promised a salary increase when his training was over.
When his training was complete and he was offered the raise, he turned it down because his teachers were not given one.
When he was able to raise teacher salaries, he then accepted his own.
It’s as simple as that. To say he accepted a raise while his teachers were not given one, is a lie.
Thank you for your comment.
The News is an award-winning newspaper. They never lie. It’s you who got the facts all wrong. Lykins accepted the salary increase while his teachers begged for crumbs. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. The Red Rock News made it perfectly clear. We need answers, not excuses.
OK, obviously someone is trolling but let’s get a few facts straight because there are folks who may believe Sandy’s comments to be true …
1) Sandy, you assert that “The reporting on school issues by The (Sedona Red Rock) News has been impeccable. They have maintained journalistic excellence in every so called ‘negative article’ they have written.”
On 16 July 2015, the Sedona Red Rock News reported that a $75 “student activity administrative fee” would be billed to each student at Sedona Red Rock High School for the 2015-16 school year. In their excitement to print yet another negative school district article, the Red Rock News forgot to do basic fact-checking.
No parent of a SRRHS student ever received such a bill. No SRRHS student ever received such a bill. The Red Rock News failed to contact anyone at Sedona Red Rock High School to verify that the $75 “student activity administrative fee” would indeed be implemented for the 2015-16 school year. The Sedona Red Rock News reported this $75 fee as fact, which was not the case. The Sedona Red Rock News failed to distinguish between a fee that had been approved versus a fee that had been implemented.
In point of fact, it was the school’s Leadership Team who decided NOT to implement this fee. And on 15 August 2015, the Sedona Red Rock News even got this wrong, reporting that Principal Karuzas was the one who nixed the $75 fee.
2) “No parent has ever stepped forward to help raise money for our schools.” Sandy, perhaps you are not familiar with the West Sedona School Carnival held Oct 24 this year, where parents manned the booths? Perhaps you were unaware of the Sedonalicious fund-raising event at the SPAC put on by district parents in January 2015?
3) “There is virtually no communication between the school board, the superintendent and the parents.” Sandy, perhaps you did not attend the Oct 15 Community Forum where Superintendent Dave Lykins answered questions from the parents? And perhaps you did not hear about yesterday’s Nov 7 Community Forum where the school district administration met with 25 parents, 25 teachers, and 25 residents? And if you want to include Red Rock News articles as parent communications — did you know that Dave Lykins arranged to meet with the Sedona Red Rock News once a week to answer any questions they might have? And that any news printed by the Red Rock News as a result of this weekly meeting could be construed as “communication with parents”?
4) “All our schools are that close to failing.” Sedona Red Rock High School has maintained its “A” rating for the last eight years. Sedona Red Rock High School is ranked 18th in Arizona by US News and World Report. SRRHS’ average AP test scores are above the national average. What is the basis for your assertion that SRRHS is close to failing?
5) “… concerned citizens got within inches of recalling one of the school board members …” Your use of the term “inches” implies that it was a close thing, which it was not. The recall committee fell far short of the required 1196 signatures (10% of the electorate).
6) ” I hope the News gets rid of the male members of the board come election time.” Sandy, I’d really like to see the News do that because it is my understanding that the VOTERS decide who is elected to the school board, not the Red Rock News.
Sandy, your assertions lack veracity. So I have to ask you: do you work for the Sedona Red Rock News?
What is even more interesting is the state looking into the school override taxing program and the abuse surrounding it. The way we fund education needs an overhaul and with all respect to Mr. Lykens, $120k may be appropriate, but for three schools?
Our districts in this state are way too small, and until we start putting dollars to the teachers and cutting down on top heavy management we are not going to improve.
Mike, I had dinner last week with the president of the Moab school Dist. (grand county).
There superintendent make about the same as ours, the school systems are about ther same size (3 schools).
What I found interesting was that Moab has a volenter fore dept!
Moab Valley Fire Protection District is a Mostly Volunteer type of Fire Department.
Moab Valley Fire Protection District is a Local organization.
Number of Fire stations constituting Moab Valley Fire Protection District: 3 Fire Station(s)
Anyone who thinks the Red Rock News bases its stories on facts should join the Brian Williams book club.