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Dixon pay cut in new position

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Aji Dixon will receive a significant pay cut in his new position as coordinator of alternative education and dropout prevention for Martinsville City Schools, compared with his salary as principal of Martinsville High School.

That’s according to salary information schools Superintendent Pam Heath supplied after the Martinsville Bulletin filed a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Bulletin sought the information after receiving phone calls and letters to the editor questioning reasons for the transfers of Dixon and former Bassett High School Principal Garrett Dillard. Some asked if race was a factor. Both Dixon and Dillard are black; their successors are white.

Officials with the Martinsville and Henry County school divisions have said race was not a factor in either move.

Heath stated that Dixon’s salary as principal of Martinsville High School for fiscal year 2012-13, a 12-month position, effective July 1, 2012, was $80,802.

Dixon’s salary for fiscal year 2013-14 as coordinator of alternative education and dropout prevention, an 11-month position, effective Aug. 1, 2013, is $53,502, Heath stated.

“Because of his switch from a 12-month to an 11-month position, Mr. Dixon will be paid for the month of July at his 2012-13 salary. Pro-rated salary over the 12-month fiscal year 2013-2014 (equals) $60,236,” Heath stated.

Dixon could not be reached for comment.

The Martinsville School Board announced Dixon’s transfer June 24. At the same time, the board named Angie Weinerth, who had been assistant principal for instruction, as the new high school principal. Heath said Weinerth will make the same $80,802 as Dixon was paid for the principal’s job.

The reassignments were part of the regular yearly process of evaluating staff placements and “determining where a person’s talents can best be used to serve our students,” Heath said in a release at the time. “We are always looking for ways to give employees opportunities to advance within the system.”

On Friday, Heath would not elaborate on the reasons for Dixon’s transfer because she said it is a personnel matter. Other school officials have said the same thing.

Heath said at least one other employee was transferred to a job that paid less in this school year.

“Ultimately, our role here is to educate students,” she said. “My obligation as superintendent is to make sure we have programs in place and resources allocated and staff assigned in such a way to promote success in all students.

“In doing so, absolutely you want to always try to have staff be as happy as possible, but ultimately we’re here to serve the students. I have to let that be my yardstick for what I do,” she added.

The coordinator of alternative education and dropout prevention is a new position created to try a new approach for helping at-risk students, Heath said.

“We have a number of students who are at risk for not being successful at school, mostly due to poverty,” she said. “We are trying hard not to have any students fall through the cracks. We want to provide wrap-around services that we need to help all students be successful.

“When we have a struggling student who doesn’t seem to fit the traditional mold ... our responsibility is to find some way to reach out and provide the extra support they need. We have tried other ways to address that in the past that weren’t as successful. We tried to relook at this this year and see what we can do” differently, she added.

Dillard, the former Bassett High School principal, was named the county schools’ coordinator of regional alternative and student athletics in May.

His salary for 2013-14 is $85,869, the same as he made last year as Bassett’s principal, according to a school official.


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