Public education is still no place to get rich. But since the recession ended, state raises and local bonuses are pushing some Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools paychecks to higher levels, the Observer’s 2017 payroll database shows.
This year’s salary list includes 19,295 employees, up from 18,650 in 2016. Among them are 9,336 teachers – and for the first time, some classroom teachers who don’t get the ROTC supplement topped $90,000 a year in total compensation.
That’s because CMS provides significant local pay bumps for highly effective teachers who take on additional duties through the Opportunity Culture program. They may earn even more if they work in the most challenging schools.
Principals also benefit from performance bonuses, especially in schools that need the most help. This year’s list shows 50 teachers collected Opportunity Culture stipends ranging from $13,000 to $23,000, while 118 teachers and school administrators earned bonuses of $5,000 or more.
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During the recession, when North Carolina froze teacher pay, the state’s average pay sank to 46th in the country. But state lawmakers have approved raises in recent years, with another round expected in the 2017-18 budget. The National Education Association currently rates North Carolina as 41st and estimates it will rise to 35th when this year’s tallies are complete.
The Observer has requested and published public salaries since 2009. Here are some nuggets from the latest round:
▪ CMS has 111 people earning total compensation of $100,000 or more, up from 95 last spring. That includes 52 principals and 59 central office administrators.
▪ Fifteen teachers topped $90,000, including nine ROTC instructors who get a federal supplement as members of the military.
▪ While white men dominate the upper echelons of corporate America, Chief Academic Officer Brian Schultz is the only white male among CMS’ 20 highest-paid employees. Fourteen are women, including Superintendent Ann Clark, and eight are African American.
Here’s a look at the Top 20:
1. Superintendent Ann Clark earned $271,209, including salary of $269,860 and a $1,349 bonus. (Clayton Wilcox, who takes over the job July 1, will get a $280,000 salary with the opportunity for a performance bonus up to 10 percent, which would bring his total pay as high as $308,000. His contract calls for him to be paid $1,077 a day for his work in the district now, before he takes the full-time job.)
2. General Counsel George Battle III earned $196,679, most of it in salary. He is the only staffer besides the superintendent who reports directly to the school board.
3. Chief Financial Officer Sheila Shirley earned $186,845, most of it from salary.
4. Garinger High School Principal Kelly Gwaltney became the highest-paid principal in CMS this year, as an $11,376 bonus brought her total compensation to $181,466. In 2015 Gwaltney moved from a cabinet-level job in CMS central offices to take the Garinger job as part of the district’s Beacon Initiative to boost performance in struggling schools.
5. Chief Operations Officer Carol Stamper earned $175,976, most of it from salary.
6. South Mecklenburg High Principal Maureen Furr earned $174,038, most of it from salary.
7. Vance High Principal Kit Rea earned $172,435, including an $11,331 bonus. She was a community superintendent in 2015 when she took the Vance job as part of the Beacon Initiative.
8-11. Chief Academic Officer Brian Schultz, Chief Accountability Officer Frank Barnes, Chief Communications Officer Kathryn Block and Chief Technology Officer Valerie Truesdale each earned $166,142, most of it from salary. Block has announced her resignation effective June 9, and CMS is advertising for a new chief communications officer.
12-13. Chief School Performance Services Officer Dawn Robinson and Chief Human Resources Officer Avery Mitchell each earned $165,624, most of it from a salary. Beginning July 1, when Wilcox takes over, Mitchell will become a learning community superintendent at the same salary of $164,800.
14. Denise Watts, superintendent for the Project LIFT Learning Community, made $160,973, most of it from salary.
15. John Wall Jr., superintendent for the LEAD Learning Community, made $157,319, most of it from salary.
16. Deputy General Counsel Andre Mayes earned $155,998, most of it from salary.
17. Nancy Brightwell, superintendent for the East Learning Community, made $155,338, most from salary.
18. Eric Ward, principal of Harding University High, earned $153,151, which includes an $11,235 bonus. Harding is part of the Beacon program.
19. Curtis Carroll, superintendent of the West 2 Learning Community, made $150,101, most in salary.
20. Diane Adams, principal of Providence Spring Elementary, made $145,487, most in salary.