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Arkansas school district facing backlash after teacher appreciation gift

Teachers were gifted sparkly ink pens while Fort Smith Schools Superintendent Terry Morawski received a 14.47% pay increase since taking the position in Dec. 2020.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — Fort Smith Public Schools (FSPS) is facing backlash for what teachers within the district received as a gift during Teacher Appreciation Week.

In a Facebook post the school district wrote, "In celebration of Teach Appreciation Week 2022, every FSPS teacher and staff member across the district will receive a pen with this note as a token of appreciation for all they do for our students."

Credit: KFSM

The Facebook post describing the gift sparked public outrage as commenters pointed out the recent pay increase for the district superintendent Terry Morawski. 

According to our content partners, Talk Business & Politics, Morawski's contract was extended with a salary set at 14.47% higher than his salary approved on Dec. 30, 2020. Certified staff pay has, on average, increased 1.11% during that same time. 

Talk Business & Politics reports that for the 2021-2022 school year, Morawski's salary was $227,348.35, a 5.6% increase from the salary listed when he was hired. In addition, his contract also shows a "miscellaneous superintendent payment" of  $15,089.28 to be paid in 24 installments over the year, which is not factored into the 14.47% base salary raise. 

It's reported that, on average, certified staff at FSPS received a 1.11% pay increase, or around $621.80, according to Talk Business & Politics.

The school district posted an apology the day after, writing, "Please accept our sincerest apologies for suggesting that a sparkle pen is an adequate token of appreciation for the incredibly important work that teachers and education teams accomplish each day.  

The sparkle pen and note was sent by the FSPS Guiding Coalition as an inexpensive but fun everyday kind of treat like the peppermint patties and bags of chips sent to the staff in the months before. 

Our teachers are our greatest asset and we celebrate them every day in Fort Smith Public Schools."

Credit: Fort Smith Public Schools

Click here to read more from our content partners, Talk Business & Politics, about the Fort Smith Schools' pay increases.

Editor's Note: The original draft of this article stated that the Fort Smith Public School's Facebook post about Teach Appreciation Week 2022 had been deleted. That was incorrect.  

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