More DPS employees top $100,000 mark

Nov. 30, 2013 @ 05:48 PM

In 2006, 11 people employed by the Durham Public Schools earned more than $100,000 a year.
That group of high-earners was led by then-Superintendent Ann Denlinger whose salary at the time of her departure in May 2006 was $217,832 a year.
The next highest paid person in the district was then-Associate Superintendent Carl Harris who earned $150,996 in the district’s No. 2 slot.
Harris would go on to succeed Denlinger, and when he quit in December 2009 to take a job with the U.S. Department of Education, he was making $229,416.
Under Harris’ leadership, the number of school district employees earning six figures increased dramatically, more than doubling to 24 during the 43 months of his tenure.
The increase in the number of $100,000 earners has been far less dramatic since Harris’ departure, only growing by five to 29 since 2009.
But taken as a whole, from May 2006 to October 2013, the total number of $100,000 earners has grown from 11 to 29, a 164 percent increase in about seven years.
The salaries include state pay and DPS supplemental pay.
The Herald-Sun obtained salary figures for the school district’s top 30 earners in May 2006, December 2009 and October 2013 as part of a public records request.
The request for the salaries of top earners was made for May 2006 and December 2009 because those are the last months and years of Denlinger’s and Harris’ tenures as superintendent.   
The paper’s examination of the record found that the largest increase in $100,000 salaries came from among the ranks of school district principals.
In 2006, the school district only had one principal earning $100,000 or more.
That number jumped to seven in 2009 and to 12 as of October 2013.
One other principal with a salary of $98,404 is about $1,600 shy of a six-figure salary.
School officials said there are many reasons for the increase in the number of principals earning more than $100,000, including the fact that the school district has hired a more experienced cadre of principals – some now have more than 30 years of experience -- who command higher salaries due to their years of service in the state system.
“If there has been a lot of turnover, that can account for the change [in the number of top earners making $100,000 more] because that allows you to hire people with more experience,” said Vanessa Jeter, communications director with the state Department of Public Instruction. 
The highest-earners in the principal ranks come mostly from the district’s high schools, but not exclusively.
Principals are compensated based on the number of teachers they supervise.
Teachers are allotted based on student population, so the principals of larger schools tend to earn higher salaries.
Principals promoted from elementary or middle schools to oversee high schools can also see fairly large increases in salaries.
“When you move from a smaller school, there’s a pay bump because it reflects a different level of responsibility,” Jeter said.  
Currently, Superintendent Eric Becoats is the top earner in the district with an annual salary of $215,844 per year and is followed by Stacey Wilson-Norman, the former area superintendent for elementary schools recently promoted to new deputy superintendent for academic services, who earns $154,000 per year.
Hugh Osteen, the district’s chief operating office at a salary of $153,000, rounds out school employees earning above $150,000.
The salaries of the remaining top earners range from $147,217 to $98,404. 
The salaries largely do not reflect pay increases, because neither administrators nor teachers have received any substantial pay increases from the state in several years.
Becoats has received a performance-based pay increase in recent years as did members of his executive leadership team.
After his performance review last week, the board declined to give Becoats a pay raise or to extend his contract, which expires in 2016.
School officials say the salaries are in line with other school districts similar to DPS.
“They are definitely in line with schools in our area and schools that are similar to ours,” said Tina Hester, the school district’s   chief human resources officer.