DeKalb school’s Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson will receive a pay hike of $76,000 after the Board of Education approved the move Jan. 18.

The board, by a vote of 6-3, approved Tyson’s new salary of approximately $240,000 after a public hearing. Board members Nancy Jester, Donna Edler, and Don McChesney voted against the salary increase.

Tyson said that the compensation is deserved because she has served as an interim head much longer than was expected.

The compensation brings “me in line with other area school districts,” Tyson said.

The vote on Tyson’s salary comes as the district faces a multi-million dollar deficit, school redistricting and has implemented staff furloughs.

Tyson’s new salary is tied to an 18-month contract. The DeKalb school system is actively searching for a new  superintendent to replace former head Crawford Lewis, who is facing a criminal indictment related to corruption in the district.

The vote came after public comments from school staff, concerned residents and parents.

David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators, a teachers’ interest group, said the organization had not taken an official position on the raise, but that members seemed not to oppose it.

“There was not any universal outrage about an increase to what she is making,” he said.

Jennifer Hatfield, a former DeKalb schools educator, spoke publically about her opposition to Tyson’s increased salary.

“This county cannot afford to increase her pay,” Hatfield said.

Jester supported a motion to delay the issue. The motion failed to gain a majority vote. She said it was difficult to agree to a contract that newly elected board members had little time to review.

Jester and Edler were seated as new members on the board in January.

“I thought we could have tabled it,” she said. “You win some; you lose some.”

– Jason Massad

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