Over the past few months I have heard numerous teachers talk about how poorly they are being compensated in Lee County. Like many citizens, I questioned that claim, knowing that much of teacher pay is mandated by the NCDPI salary schedule. So, I did a little digging this week. What I found helped me understand the angst from those teachers about teacher compensation. I am sharing it here.
First, teacher pay is indeed controlled by the state through its salary schedule: http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/fbs/finance/salary/schedules/2010-11schedules.pdf
However, school districts are free to supplement those salaries to make themselves more competitive in attracting teachers and administrators. Some school districts offer handsome supplements, while other school districts use them sparingly. It is in the analysis of these supplements that one can discern what school districts truly value when it comes to their employee work force. Thankfully, NCDPI captures the supplmental pay for every school district in the state and publishes that data. See this site to verify my observations that follow below: http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/fbs/finance/salary/supplements/2010-11supplements.pdf
First observation– Lee County pays substantially less in teacher supplements than most counties, and far less than both Moore and Chatham counties, who are substantially wealthier than Lee County and both of whom spend more in the aggregate on public education than we do. Lee County pays 712 teachers an average of $2859 a year in supplemental income, as compared to Chatham County’s $4009 each for its 559 teachers, and Moore County’s $3535 each for its 827 teachers.
Second Observation– Lee County pays substantially more in supplements to its principals, assistant principals, superintendent, and assistant superintendents than almost any other county in central NC. Now, we are not a wealthy county in comparison to many in our part of the state. But you would never know that by the very generous supplements we are paying our administrators. Our principals average almost $3000 more in supplemental pay per year than those in Chatham County and almost double the supplemental amounts of those in Harnett County. Our superintendent makes roughly the same in supplemental salary ($40,000) as the superintendents in Chatham, Moore, and Harnett– COMBINED! He has four associate and assistant superintendents whose combined supplements of $40,000 are greater than Moore County’s assistants combined ($38,379), and who make more supplemental income than their counterparts in Chatham and Harnett Counties combined ($32,048).
When you assess the above two observations with respect to each other you cannot help but conclude Lee County decisionmakers value their adminstrators over their teachers. It’s just that simple. No other county has supplemental salary so perversely skewed as does Lee County. More pointedly, teachers are being shafted by their school administration and the Lee County Board of Education, and its high time they knew it.
Here’s a thought: Why not have the principals, assistant principals, superintendent and assistant superintendents all be limited to the average supplement being paid to the surrounding three counties? After all, our teachers make less than the average of their counterparts in the neighboring counties.
Another thought: Why not make a commitment to pay our teachers sufficient supplemental income to ensure their average total compensation is equal to any surrounding county? I know this sounds outlandish to budget hawks in this, a really horrible budget year. But if we make that a policy objective for next year and beyond, then the LCBOE and the LCBOC would have the time to analyze and deliberately divert the necessary funds from elsewhere within the school bureaucracy. Doing this would be great for teacher morale and give us a fighting chance to recruit and sustain even more outstanding teachers.
As I indicated in the headline. The numbers don’t lie. They indicate what we value in our educational bureaucracy and they tell our teachers they aren’t as important as their paper pushing bosses when it comes to educating our children.