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California Superintendent Gives Up $830K In Wages To Help School Facing Budget Cuts

Tomorrow morning, a California school superintendent will retire from his job, only to be rehired later in the day. Why? Fresno County’s superintendent Larry Powell wants to be paid a much lower wage. Leaving behind a $288,241 annual salary, Powell will voluntarily work for $31,020 — $10,000 less than a first-year teacher’s salary — with no benefits. This, Powell says, ensures that the $830,000 he would have earned for the remainder of his term will go toward the county schools’ budget for the next three years.

Characterized as exceedingly humble, Powell — also a Baptist minister — said his motivation for the unconventional move was to do what he can to counter budget cuts to his beleaguered school system:

“My wife and I are very well compensated. We’ve been very blessed,” he told the television station.

“These are tight budget times in California for public schools,” the 63-year-old Fresno County school superintendent said, noting over the past three years, his area has lost $1,600 to $1,900 in funding per student. “My wife and I thought, what can we do that might help change the dynamic in my particular area.”

Watch Powell on ABC News:

http://abcnews.go.com/assets/player/walt2.6/flash/SFP_Walt_2_69.swf

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Because his salary comes out of the district’s discretionary budget, Powell will be able “to steer the money he is giving up where he wants: to programs for kindergarten and preschool, the arts and a pet project that steers B and C students into college by teaching them how to take notes and develop strategy skills.” As ABC’s David Wright notes, Powell’s $830,000 is enough to hire 20 new teachers, fund 16 pre-school classes, or pay for 11 art programs for the entire year.

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U.S Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called Powell yesterday to thank him for his generosity. “Larry Powell’s leadership is an absolute inspiration,” he said in a statement.