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Gainesville, Buford school leaders earn top pay

Report card ranks adminstrator salaries highest at two local systems

POSTED: February 21, 2008 5:01 a.m.

GAINESVILLE -- School administrators in Georgia looking for top pay need only look to North Georgia.

Buford city schools, with an average salary of $100,887, and Gainesville city schools, with an average of $95,225, lead the state in average administrative pay, according to Georgia's 2006-07 Report Card for K-12 schools.

The average administrative pay in Hall is $84,154; statewide it is $81,616. Other area districts with administrative pay ranking above the state average are Commerce city and Forsyth, Dawson and Jackson counties.

The salaries are for personnel who have received educator certification.

The numbers are all part of the Governor's Office of Student Achievement's annual report card, with the latest one, the 2006-07 report, released in the fall.

The report card gives a sweeping look at each of the state's schools and school systems, including how students fared on basic-skills tests and college-entrance exams, demographics, HOPE Scholarship eligibility and graduation rate.

The report, available online and also featuring a look at the university and technical college systems, gives an in-depth picture of each school system's employees, broken down in categories of administrators, support personnel and teachers.

The office "hopes that the information contained in these reports ... will provide educators, parents, students and all stakeholders with valuable information and challenge communities to improve education for all of Georgia's children," according to the Web site.

As for the administrative pay, Gainesville city schools Superintendent Steven Ballowe said, "I think that you will find that the figures are skewed for small districts compared to large districts."

By the state's last enrollment count in October, Gainesville had 6,139 students.

Many smaller systems, such as Cartersville, Dawson County and Dalton, have average salaries of $90,000-plus. Others, such as Valdosta and Laurens and Habersham counties, are in the $80,000 or less range, according to the report.

Webster County, located south of Columbus in West Georgia, has one school, Webster County Elementary/Middle School, and an average administrative pay of $88,957.

The district, which has 464 students as of the last state enrollment count, has two full-time administrators and 29 teachers.

The county had a 2006 U.S. Census population of 2,252, down from 2,390 in 2000. The 2004 per capita income was $25,724, compared to $30,914 for the state.

Gainesville has 23 full-time and two part-time administrators, according to the report card. "Gainesville may have few administrators, (so) the superintendent's salary has a big impact with the average," Ballowe said. "When compared to a large district, the impact of the superintendent and central office is moderated by the many assistants' salaries."

Ballowe earns $185,000 per year. He also receives an additional package, including money for travel and expense reimbursement, topping $37,000 in value.

David Shumake, the district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, earns $126,000. The highest paid principal is Mike Kemp of Gainesville High at $116,000.

The average administrator pay for Hall County and similarly sized districts, such as Columbia, Coweta, Fayette and Forsyth, is in the $80,000 to $90,000 range. Hall's pay ranks 36th in the state.

Hall has 25,585 students, according to state records. Hall's superintendent, Will Schofield, earns $183,562. The next highest-paid administrator is Richard Hill, associate superintendent for human resources, who earns $140,106.

The district's highest-paid principals are Jackie Adams of West Hall High and Mark Coleman of Flowery Branch High, who each earn $113,296.

Schofield said he believes there is "savage inequality among Georgia school systems' ability to financially support education, (and) you see this reflected in many areas, including salaries."

"Even though we are blessed with relatively abundant resources in Hall County, leadership and teacher jobs are market-sensitive, and we are competing with our metro neighbors," Schofield said.

Buford teachers are earning an average $56,120, the highest in the state, according to the report card.
But Gainesville schools, ranked 40th in that category at $50,758, and Hall County, ranked 50th at $50,351, still exceed the state average of $49,836.

Georgia has 180 school systems.

Several factors play into educator salaries.

Educators are paid based on their years of experience, topping out at 21, and type of college degree, with a bachelor's degree paying the least and a doctorate paying the most. A jump to a higher degree could mean an annual raise of $7,000 or more.

Also, they are paid according to a state salary scale and a "local supplement." Some top administrators don't receive a supplement but rather a salary based on a certain formula.

In Hall, for example, assistant superintendents receive 1« times the state teacher salary that matches their years of experience and degree, plus 20 percent of that for working an additional two months.

Contract years vary as well. The average daily salary for administrators in Gainesville ($464.92 based on 218 days worked) is higher than Buford ($457.51 based on 220 days), Hall County ($379.55 based on 221 days) or the state average ($373.30 based on 218 days).

The average years of experience for administrators in Buford (23.08) exceed the number in Gainesville (19.84), Hall County (22.33) and Georgia (19.84), according to the state report.

The Hall school system is planning a job fair for Feb. 23 at the Gainesville Civic Center on Green Street, with the projected salary range for positions at $37,366 to $80,382.

The district is currently looking for several administrators, posting the positions on its Web site.

The "anticipated maximum salary" for principals at Lyman Hall, Lula and Mount Vernon elementary schools is $107,097 for each.

"We currently have between 35 and 70 applicants for each of our administrative openings," Schofield said. "People want to work in a progressive system."

Gainesville city schools has one administrative post listed on its Web site, www.gcssk12.net. The system is seeking a director of school and community activities and athletic programs, with a salary range of $50,000 to $80,000.



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