Schools explain pay raises

Published 7:22 pm Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Formula to compute increases conducted internally 

By Frederic Lee

Staff writer

Some Isle of Wight County school administrators saw a significant bump in pay in a single year, with the average being 12 percent. 

Others did not receive an increase at all. 

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Among executive directors, Cheryl Elliott, executive director of human resources, received the largest raise — both percentage-wise and in dollars — with a salary increase of nearly 16 percent, according to financial information provided by the school division. 

Two executive directors —Elliott and Rachel Trollinger, executive director of budget and finance — went from five- to six-figure salaries since last November. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Elliott’s salary went from $93,840 to $108,780 and Trollinger’s went from $98,000 to $112,280 since November 2018. 

In the same timeframe, Executive Director of Administration and Operations Mark Mabey’s salary climbed from $102,000 to $114,147, and Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Susan Goetz received a $10,937 raise, bringing her salary to $113,447, according to financial documents provided by the school division. 

In general, executive director salary increases ranged from 10 to 16 percent since last November. 

Isle of Wight County Schools adopts an employee salary scale each year prior to the upcoming fiscal year. From fiscal 2018 to fiscal 2019, the minimum pay for an executive director in Isle of Wight County was bumped from $76,999 to $105,000, which is what it is now, according to data provided by Isle of Wight County Schools. 

Prior to their most recent raises, all four executive directors were making less than $105,000, with the increases putting them comfortably within the new pay scale range. 

The Isle of Wight County School Board held a special meeting Tuesday to address the employee pay scale adjustments. 

Superintendent Jim Thornton presented on the topic, explaining that the former pay scale had made it possible for large disparities between administrative employees with the same job title to emerge. For the updated scales, a formula had been created that takes into account years of experience to determine individual salaries for administrators. 

The calculations were done internally and no outside consultant was hired.

In an interview earlier this month, School Board Chairperson Vicky Hulick defended pay scale increases for executive directors and other central office staff, citing the needs to retain exceptional staff with competitive pay and to create equity and balance within the school division’s various departments.  

Hulick also said that the school division has become less “top heavy” since her election to the board in 2015, referring to teacher salary increases that, in some cases, amounted to 16 percent over the past four years. 

Teacher salaries in Isle of Wight County Schools now range from $44,000 to $71,948, with additional earning potential based on advanced degrees and/or certificates. 

Hulick said that, when Isle of Wight County Schools officials are determining what pay scales to put into place, they look at other, similar school divisions, namely Gloucester County. 

Gloucester County pay scales for executive directors currently sits at $93,100 to $134,000, according to Gloucester County Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Heather Lucas.  

On the pay scale increases, Isle of Wight County Schools spokesperson Lynn Briggs said in an email Nov. 25 that school division officials realized there was a problem with the administrative pay scale when one of the division’s teachers was moving into an assistant principal position. 

“The employee was going from a 10-month position to a 12-month position with added responsibilities and we discovered that he would actually make less money (before the pay scale changes),” she said.

Briggs added that it was also discovered that other administrators with more experience than employees in the same position were making less than them, and and that using the new scale and formula, the division shouldn’t see disparities for administrators’ pay. 

With the executive director raises, the Isle of Wight County Schools superintendent, assistant superintendent, its four executive directors and two of its five directors are earning six figures, according to information provided by the school division. 

In the last twelve months, Isle of Wight County Schools Assistant Superintendent Michael Lombardo’s salary increased from $119,510 to $121,487, according to financial information from the school division. 

Thornton started at $142,500 in May 2015, and two years later, his contract was updated to give him a 9-percent raise, in the amount of $13,024, plus a yearly two percent increase for the remainder of his contract. 

His current salary is $161,808, according to Briggs. 

Large one-time salary increases not confined to school personnel. 

In 2015, the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors launched a salary study to address turnover, difficulty in filling some positions, new employees being paid the same as long-term employees, outdated and obsolete job descriptions and balancing salary with other benefits.

The county hired Evergreen Solutions and a presentation from the company was made to the Board during a regular meeting. 

The school division did not hire an outside firm to perform a formal salary study in the process of updating employee pay scales, according to Briggs. 

The county’s study resulted in an average pay raise of $3,700 for those who received one. Of the county’s 219 full-time employees at the time, close to two-thirds got a raise, with 40 percent being in the Sheriff’s Office. 

Nine county employees received raises of $10,000 or more, with the highest being $26,139.  {/mprestriction}