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 Article of Interest

Schools official to donate his raise ; State education head will give to kids groups
State Superintendent of Education Tom Watkins is putting his money where his mouth is.

by Peggy Walsh-Sarnecki, Detroit Free Press, August 14, 2002

Watkins, who routinely advocates putting children first, will announce today that he'll donate his first raise, which he is expected to receive this fall, to charity. He said $1,000 of that raise will go to Anthony Cheathem, an Inkster High School graduate heading to Grambling University in the fall.

Watkins met Cheathem during hearings for the state takeover of Inkster schools. "His enthusiasm, his perseverance, has just been outstanding," Watkins said.

The rest of his raise will go to Starfish Family Services, which provides services for troubled young people and counseling for their families. Watkins helped found the group in 1976.

The board agreed to give Watkins a raise last week, following his first annual review. Watkins, who currently makes $165,000, was hired in April 2001.

"I thought about it over the years," Watkins said, when asked why he decided to give away his raise. "I'm compensated well and it's about the kids.'

It's not clear yet how much the raise will be. The raise will be finalized when Watkins' contract is renewed in October.

However, the state Board of Education, which oversees Watkins, agreed to raise his salary by the average increase given by Gov. John Engler to other state department heads this fall.

Engler has not yet decided what raises, if any, department heads will receive, said Engler spokeswoman Susan Shafer. Last year, department heads received 2-percent raises. A 2-percent raise for Watkins would yield $3,300 for charity.

Watkins said he hopes corporate executives and others also will take a look at their paychecks and see if they can't give a little more. He's especially encouraging giving to charities that benefit children.

"The fact is that giving, charitable giving, is down because of the stock market and a lot of the corporate world and others could give back," Watkins said.

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