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Lee County schools spent more than $1 million in extra pay for bosses

Mar. 25, 2013
Cathleen Morgan
Cathleen Morgan
Constance Jones

Additional pay

School-based administrators such as principals and assistant principals receive additional compensation amounts based on a number of factors, ranging from the size of the buildings they work in and the school level. Here are some examples:
Lee schools:

• A principal working in a high school receives an additional $6,000 a year, and if the student enrollment in their building is between 1,500 and 1,999, students they receive an additional $800, according to the district’s administrator salary schedule.
• All administrators also receive annual degree supplements ranging from $500 for a master’s degree, $3,000 for a doctorate and $2,000 as a specialist.
• Other supplements include $2,000 for assignment to a district-wide curriculum or special area, $2,000 as a member of the district’s negotiating team, $2,000 for a principal opening a new school and $1,000 for an assistant principal opening a new school.
Collier schools

• Administrators receive $10.20 extra per day for a specialist degree or $15.30 per day for a doctor’s degree.
• A chief negotiator can earn $5,000 per year and team members anywhere from $2,000 to $500 extra per year.
Source: Lee and Collier schools

Jeanne Dozier
Joseph Burke


Lee County schools spend more than $1 million each year on additional pay for administrators.

Principals, coordinators and district administrators received extra pay for issues ranging from participating in district negotiations, moving to a new position or having a master’s degree.

“It’s crazy, and quite honestly I’ve never seen a salary structure for administrators built on these series of supplements,” said Superintendent Joseph Burke. “ ... there’s a different way to structure that into the salary schedule without these layers and layers of supplements.”

Typically supplemental contracts are for additional duties that are beyond the job, said Alberto Rodriguez, the district’s chief administrative officer.

This school year the district is spending $1,057,378 on extra pay for administrators and last year spent $1,012,169 for the same group, according to records requested by The News-Press.

“All of these supplements create inequity across the district,” said Lee board member Cathleen Morgan.

School-based administrators such as principals and assistant principals receive additional compensation based on a number of factors, ranging from the size of the buildings they work in and the school level.

“It’s kind of a throwback, and I’ve honestly never seen anything like it,” Burke said. “I think that some school districts have continued to have that in their salary schedule, because a doctorate is considered the highest degree. We pay it to teachers and then there’s this legacy thing. If you’ve got it as a teacher and become an administrator you should continue to have it. Maybe, maybe not, but it is there.”

Morgan said the current system can lend itself to abuse, especially when supplements are given for responsibilities that are not outlined in the district’s administrative salary schedule.

When an administrator is assigned a task or job outside their regular duties , their direct supervisor would then figure out the amount of extra pay, said Greg Adkins, executive director of east zone operations for Lee Schools.

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“One of the things they would try to do for those numbers is estimate the amount of time and additional task it would take outside of the work day and look at the pay rate for the employee and make a calculation for how much additional that would be based on the extra spent doing that task,” Adkins said.

Adkins falls into that category . He receives $4,000 for leading the Negotiations Team, $3,000 for his doctoral degree, and $7,588.80 to offset the pay difference for his move from director of human resources to east zone director last summer. His base salary is $108,364.80.

Adkins said as chief human resource officer he was at a higher pay grade than the zone executive director . By receiving a supplement, he could be reassigned without taking a pay cut, and he still performs some duties related to the HR position.

Ten years ago Adkins said he was hired as director of employee relations and contract management — a position that has since been eliminated, but elements, such as negotiations have remained and transferred to his new duties.

The employee receiving the most extra pay is former Chief Academic Officer Constance Jones. Her district position was left vacant when she became the interim principal at Gulf Middle School. Jones’ pay difference is $15,259.20, in addition to the $3,000 degree supplement and $2,000 for negotiations.

But Morgan said there should be better oversight into the work some administrators are receiving extra pay for. She points to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez receives $7,000 for leading the district’s reaccreditation process and public relations. The district’s public relations department job has been empty since December, when Joe Donzelli resigned . Starting April 1, Amity Chandler from Drug Free Charlotte County will take over the role. Rodriguez also receives a $3,000 supplement for a doctor’s degree. His base salary is $120,666.

When it comes to public relations, Morgan said Rodriguez hasn’t done much to earn an additional supplement.

“These are not responsibilities that are out of the ordinary with respect to district administrative officers,” Morgan said. “These are normal responsibilities that he has and therefore he is not entitled to additional compensation, but the board has no oversight.

(Page 3 of 3)

Rodriguez said the public relations, marketing, branding and communications for the district that he’s doing is above and beyond what Donzelli was responsible for, because the position changed.

“District accreditation is definitely not in my job description, that’s for the chief academic officer, which hasn’t been filled,” he said. “But because of my expertise and experience, that’s been given to me to do.”

Board member Jeanne Dozier, Lee’s longest serving board member, said supplemental pay for degrees and other duties have been around since long before she came to Lee County, but agreed that discretionary supplements should end.

“When you have the superintendent giving out supplements here, there and everywhere, this has to stop,” she said. “We’re going to have to look at everything because we’re looking at a $25 million shortfall, and we’ve got to come up with some way to make up that money.”

The other issue is awarding degree supplements to administrators who are required to have that degree for their position. Principals and assistant principals are required to have a master’s degree or higher.

“In those cases where a degree is required, you shouldn’t be paid for it,” Morgan said. “And there is no relationship. Quality research shows no relationship between a degree and impact on student performance, whether at the teacher level or administrator level. We should not be compensating for degrees, we should be compensating for performance.”

Adkins said there are certain skills that administrators with higher degrees can bring into their schools or programs.

“That’s part of our culture,” he said. “We do that for teachers. We pay teacher’s for their master’s degree and part of our culture that we’ve historically paid for administrators, but I fully admit there are two schools of thought on that between the people who think you have to have a master’s to become a principal so it should be in the base salary and those who think I have a master’s and should be paid for the degree.”

The supplements are an issue that does get talked about once a year as administrator salary and compensation are discussed, Adkins said. For example, next school negotiation team supplements are decreasing from $2,000 to $500 because of a school board recommendation.

But often times it can difficult for a superintendent to hire someone without giving them credit for their experience, Adkins said.

The district will also undergo a compensation study soon, Rodriguez said, adding that there is a chance the study would recommend paying administrators more than the current supplement system.

“Many compensation studies have done away with supplemental pay for degrees,” Rodriguez said. “However in return they have built those extra dollars into the base salary because of the extra responsibilities for administrators.”

Connect with this reporter: @AshASmithNews (Twitter)

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