Thursday, July 26, 2012

CMS raises: Quirks and ironies

The release of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' market adjustment raises has raised questions and highlighted some strange twists in the system.

Let's start with principal pay, a hot topic for years.  Teachers, principals and assistant principals are all on state pay schedules, leading some to wonder why the administrators were eligible for market bumps while teachers were not.

That's because the state scales prescribe exactly what a teacher makes based on experience and credentials,  but give a range for administrators,  says CMS Human Resources Chief Dan Habrat.  CMS used the market raises to bump 58 principals and 34 assistants higher in their range.  Thus, East Meck Principal Rick Parker,  whose $93,000 salary was apparently the most out of whack based on the 2007 study,  ends up with a 19 percent raise after a $14,744 adjustment and the 3 percent across-the-board raise.

I was surprised to see strategic staffing principals on the adjustment list.   In his five years with CMS,  Peter Gorman made that program his showcase,  tapping top principals to bring a team into struggling schools.  Those principals got 10 percent raises,  and even in the midst of the recession he and the board found money to keep expanding that program.  Does this mean those top performers were still below 2007 market wages,  even after their 10 percent hike?

Well,  no.  Habrat told me last night that strategic staffing is considered a  "bonus program,"  with the 10 percent an add-on for taking on that specific challenge.  The market raises were calculated based on "core salaries" before the 10 percent hikes,  he said.

So does that means the 10 percent raises go away when the three-year strategic staffing term is completed and/or the principal moves to another school?   Again,  no.  Principals keep the 10 percent strategic staffing raise and the market hike as long as they're in a principal job with CMS (or even if they're reassigned but not demoted,  as witnessed by the fact that an assistant principal who was briefly a high school principal is consistently one of CMS' highest-paid employees).

An irony emerged when CMS released the long-awaited word on who got the top market raise of  $17,202.  It went to an executive director leading a five-year,  federally-funded pilot program designed to see if teacher performance pay could boost student achievement.  The job Susan Norwood now holds didn't exist when CMS did the 2007 study and won't exist by the end of this school year.  There's no sign yet that the TIF-LEAP merit-pay program yielded clear evidence on student achievement  --  but that doesn't matter,  because the market raises aren't based on program results or individual performance.

Back in 2007,  Deloitte Consulting looked at eight CMS executive director jobs  (transportation, public information, professional development, employee relations, human resources, budget, accounting and partnerships)  and compared those wages with pay for similar jobs in education,  government and nonprofit agencies.  The market scale they came up with is what was used to determine whether today's executive directors needed a bump to make competitive salaries,  Habrat said.

Finally,  it's worth noting that Superintendent Heath Morrison is launching studies of the effectiveness of his communications and HR departments,  saying both are crucial to the strategic plan he'll unveil after his first 100 days.  Without pointing fingers at individuals,  I think it's fair to say this provides a case study in room for improvement.

A month after the school board approved this pay plan,  CMS released specifics to employees and the public.  On Wednesday,  all employees got an email saying they could check their individual raise eligibility on the CMS  "employee self service" system.  But that system told teachers they weren't eligible for even the 3 percent raises.  Habrat said last night that was an error;  updating the teacher pay scales is more complicated and will take a few more days,  he said.  CMS is following up today with a correction.

Likewise,  I left the office at 8 p.m. Wednesday with no answers to follow-up questions based on the raise list.  Habrat called at 9,  after I emailed him, Morrison and spokeswoman Tahira Stalberte to say a "Habrat and Morrison weren't available to answer questions" story was online and headed for print  (Stalberte says Morrison was tied up in back-to-back community meetings).

Morrison has vowed to be nimble and responsive to public and press questions.  He and his team are going to face their share of curve balls in the months ahead.  But when you've got a month to prepare, we're still playing slow-pitch.

Update 5 p.m.:  Christine Mast has shared a CMS email noting that the $3.6 million county cost for the market raises was an estimate that turned out to be low.  The new email sets the tab at $4.35 million from the county,  including benefits,  and an additional $1.1 million from other sources,  such as federal grants and revenue from the lunch and after-school programs.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing, Common sense tells the common man that some of these "raises" are simply stupid. The district says a few months back that they are broke and needs funds to save jobs. Then this kind of crap. Who is responsible? Can we blame Morrison? I wonder if this was a stunt forwarded by someone who wants to make the district look stupid. Like Muri did when he leaked the I-pad story and then left two weeks later or Jones when she took the district to task prior to leaving for the DC school district. Habrat? Henry? Bueler? Ferris Bueler?

BolynMcClung said...

TO ANON 10:02

IT AIN'T BROKE

I certainly understand your frustration with the pay adjustments. But you have one thing wrong: CMS isn't broke. By law it runs a balanced budget.

The fiscal and financial problems were that CMS was unable to predict the amounts coming from its funding sources.

CMS had many options to plan for less, less and a whole lot less money. Every option allowed for a prudent and positive "fund balance" ...otherwise known in government circles as the rainy-day fund.

What you say is "broke and needs funds to save jobs" is half correct. They were trying to save jobs.

Even the most liberal of the school board recognizes the requirement to stay within a budget. When that member was asked how much to spend to educate children, the answer was, "Whatever it takes, as long as we have the money."

Bolyn McClung
Pineville

Christine Mast said...

C'mon, Bolyn...

Even the most liberal of the school board recognizes the requirement to stay within a budget.

http://obsyourschools.blogspot.com/2012/05/4800-for-london-networking.html

Christine Mast said...

What I would like to know is how much anyone told Dr. Morrison about the background to this market adjustment, especially about TIF-LEAP. And about how the details of this particular dollar amount ($3.6 million) were never made public until AFTER the budget was approved by the BOE.

Does the BOCC realize now what happened? Ann, I would be curious of their reaction(s)...

I would love for Dr. Morrison to hold a news conference about this, and get it all on the table. We may not like what he has to say, but it would be nice to hear from him. This would be a great opportunity for him to build some "political capital" with the public.

Anonymous said...

Susan Norwood?? Wow! Really

Anonymous said...

The point in this folks is once again our teachers at CMS get stepped on again. These are the people spending 50-60 hours a week with our children who really care about them learning. With this recent action its top down Broad management and it creates a mess with your teachers. CMS is going to lose more of the good ones they have over this. It is not a stable enviroment to teach in. That is not a great place for the children of the community to learn in. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

And the state has been stepping down the teachers' scale for 4 years in order to keep their pay frozen. Isn't there something illegal in doing that? Why aren't the admin scales stepped down or whatever you want to call it also? That would seem equitable. But silly me, no of course not.

Anonymous said...

This is so insulting. The TIF LEAP program was the biggest joke of all. There was a lot of fraud within surrounding submission of data and the last audit. Norwood's dept apparently made no move to investigate the fraud, only investigating honest teachers who were instructed (by principals trying to make room in their buildings)to go ahead and throw out their data...To reward someone whose department has been dismantled and was deemed a huge farce and failure...makes this teacher understand it is time to leave this profession. It's not about the kids.

Anonymous said...

So Susan will make her new rate until December, then move back into the teacher pat scale when she returns to the classroom, right?

Anonymous said...

This may help:

http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/fbs/finance/salary/schedules/2012-13schedules.pdf

Anonymous said...

I think Heath should in some way explain the decision to staff/teachers publicly very quickly. Its his game now its time to step to the plate and put a spin on it. I value our great teachers , but I also cannot blame them for leaving the system or career. Their job is a very valuable part of CMS and to lose them is a shame. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

The market study should have included teachers because in comparable cities, teachers make a lot more than those in CMS. Thanks for the 3%(I know I should be happy)it will now cover the 3 to 4% increase in food prices reported in the paper yeasterday.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the teachers should picket during the DNC. However, I am unsure if this is allowed in their bargaining contracts. I'm sure that would raise a lot of attention if the timing was right.

Anonymous said...

Ann,
I know of two hourly employees that went on the website this morning to see what their raises were and read-"you no longer have a position with CMS." After a call to their school, they were told there were issues with the site--don't worry.
I can tell you from dealing with HR in CMS that the entire department needs to be purged from top to bottom. They are as inept as it gets!

Anonymous said...

I was denied my TIP/LEAP bonus after my school was closed, I retired, and my computer was blanked. Fraud is a kind word. They stole my money, and all efforts to get help were stonewalled.

Anonymous said...

Norwood was doing a Princpal internship 2 years ago.????????????? I am at a loss of how here raise reflects her effort.

Anonymous said...

Some of the raises were deserved. The hourly and some of the people like engineers, AP's and the like. The problem is the study was done FOUR years ago and job comparisons were done based on the title of the job and not what the job entails within CMS. A "security manager" in CMS and a "security manager" in a bank or business are two different things!
I know one person, who got a raise of $6,000, that does nothing but change passwords all day and watches three movies a day.
Now I ask you-did anybody look at what he/she is really doing before giving the raise? Too much straight across the board stuff going on. Take time and look at the jobs!

Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough. If you compare the 2011-12 state scale with the 2012-13 scale you will not that many of us are making less after the 1.5% raise than we were before. The legislature's math astounds me. Fortunately the CMS Supplement will actually result in a bit higher income no thanks to the General Assembly

Anonymous said...

Definitely another slap in the face to teachers.
I would like to see two things.
1) See as much energy from Dr. Morrison going into pushing Raleigh to reinstate the teachers' step in salary,
2) Clean house in HR. They are rude, inept and do a shameful job.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Heath Morrison is holding a series of town hall meetings for employees and the public starting next week, and I suspect he'll hear about this (and answer questions, I hope). Find the schedule at www.cms.k12.nc.us under News (don't want to post the monster link).

I also asked if there will be a venue for people to email their comments to the consultants who are about to review communications and HR, because as I told Morrison, I think there are a lot of people who have good or bad experiences to report. He said there will be a way to communicate that will be shared soon.

Anonymous said...

Are we actually going to be able to see a list of who got those raises and how much they got? That would be very telling.

Anonymous said...

There will be a town hall with Mr. Morrison on Monday at North Mecklenburg high school. I believe it starts at 6:30 (might be 6). He had invited CMS employees to attend...and we should if at all possible.

Ann Doss Helms said...

1:27, click the hotlink in the first sentence. That takes you to the list by name/position/amount.

Christine Mast said...

Ann,

Have you asked Dr. Morrison to hold a press conference to answer these questions? I can't imagine you'd get enough details at one of the Community Meetings or the Staff Meetings...

Anonymous said...

Two points I'd like to make:
- Most teachers would be much better compensated if the lost steps were reinstated than by receiving this "raise," and
- It's naive to think that any CMS employee who speaks truthfully at these town meetings will not be blacklisted.

dscienceguy said...

State employees (at least those in education) receive longevity pay which is a percent amount of their base pay dependent on having at least 10 years in the system. Will this "market raise" be included in their longevity multiplier?

Bill Stevens said...

Dr. Morrison has started off his leadership with 2 albatrosses around his neck (Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner) closing of urban schools and dismantling of the most successful middle school in NC and this market adjustment pay scale which ignores the missed step incremnets of teachers and a few others.

He is running with concrete shoes.

Anonymous said...

Market raises in the HR Department and PR/Communications Department ?

WHAT A JOKE ON THE TAXPAYERS

Anonymous said...

It's true. While Mr, Morrison probably has good intentions, there is a total air of distrust throughout the ranks for CMS teachers. Any invitation by him to speak freely at these meetings will be met with skepticism. There has been too much persecution of teachers who have dared to speak out. He won't get much feedback. Not honest, open feedback.

Anonymous said...

Once again the communications/marketing dept at CMS did a great job with this one. One can only hope they are not apart of any income raise !

Anonymous said...

The HR department in CMS is a joke and has been for at least the 20 + years I have been there. They can't answer simple questions, they are rude, they don't return phone calls. It's filled with folks who are serving out their time until they can retire as well as some already retired who won't go away.

Ann Doss Helms said...

The employee town hall meetings will be closed to press and other nonemployees. CMS will have some people to talk about it afterward, so anyone else who wants, hang out and share your impressions (or email or tweet me).

Morrison strikes me as a tolerant guy, but yeah, it would take a bold soul to publicly bless out the new boss.

Anonymous said...

Ann:

Please find out what the Broad Fellow on this list does and how that job description relates to the Market Study. What exactly does this person do and how do they justify a $4,000 raise?

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to believe that while teachers are only receiving a 3% raise, that multiple people are getting over $10,000. I am sorry but for that kind of money the people in the HR department and other departments with the large increases need to be put into the classroom at the lowest schools and have to teach for at least one week. Providing the lesson plans, contact the parents and going to the daily meetings.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Interesting on the Broad Fellow. In the 2011 and 2012 payrolls, she was listed as holding a temporary position in Building Services at $90,000 a year. The Broad web site describes such residencies as a two-year on-the-job management training program with a salary of $85,000 to $90,000 a year.

Anonymous said...

Even more outrageous. CMS gave a raise to a trainee. But teachers can go get screwed.

Anonymous said...

So what does a Broad Trainee do for her $90,000?

Anonymous said...

The Broad trainee is probably being "prepped" for a principal position. Only those deemed worthy qualify for principal training. Most are usually Teach for America. It seems as though CMS has a contract with TFA to move their prodigies right to the top.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who believed there is a shred of integrity in CMeSs has just been proven wrong:
Teachers-screwed again.
BOCC-You are all fools for continuing to enable.
Public-snookered over & over.

Anonymous said...

"Albatross!" (Monty Python)

Anonymous said...

Ann, you say employee town hall meeting will be closed to the press and to non-employees, but who's to say what "higher-ups" from central office and the zones will be there to keep an eye on their lower level employees? Sorry, Ann. There is no trust and are concerns of retribution is one speaks openly. Other teachers have expressed this me, it's not just my way of thinking.

After the veiled threats that came along with Pay for Performance, the recent RIF, the national pastime of "blame the teachers" and all sorts of things that have gone on, we are a paranoid group of people.

We may show up. But we may sit there silently.

J.Sietmann said...

My husband and I are retired and we got a whopping $13.00 a month cost of living raise. Wow gas went up more than that. This is ridiculous and degrading since nothing for 4 years. How are Seniors supposed to live?

Anonymous said...

Hair Morrison

Have you gotten your "radar" fixed yet? What a terrible way to begin to fix that rapid desent of teacher morale and the retention of great teachers. Take a look at the salary of teachers in Northern Virginia. About $19,000 more than CMeS.

Anonymous said...

I think we need to give Morrison a chance, I recall hearing about these increases before he officially took office. It's unfortunate that now the whole market adjustments have been thrown in there. I just feel in reading about this, he walked into something with his hands tied. He has been in his role less than a month. He along with the us is probably trying to get a grip on whats going on. i give him a pass on this, however, I am not ignoring the fact that we deserve answers, but those questions should be addressed to the right people....like functional leadership...CFO and CHRO .....these market adjustments just don't make sense......these people have no direct impact on our kids, not saying they they shouldn't have gotten anything but 4000 plus increases.....wow...my questions would be to Budget and HR leadership and I hope Morrision is asking....there is no justification for it

gene bernice said...

Market rises in HR Department and Communication Department. CMS gave rise to trainee.


HR Jobs

Anonymous said...

Ann, That link to our little CMS pay raise is still not fixed. I just logged in again to be told that I am not eligible for a raise. Habrat said it was going to be fixed Thursday. It is now Friday. My kindergarten students could point that out to him.

Anonymous said...

That same window has a message that the changes may not be available to view until August 20th. Which is also what has been said in e-mails etc. that the information will be available online August 25th (this is still July) but will be reflected in the July check.

OMG, my hair is on fire I'm defending CMS' HR department. I'm melting, I'm melting.

Anonymous said...

According to the answer from HR, I didn't get a market increase because I wasn't in my current position for two years as of June 30th, 2012.

Ann,

If the Broad Fellow is in a two year OJT, then two questions. Why is she getting a market adjustment for a job that she hasn't been in for two years yet, and/or why is she still a Broad Fellow if she is done with the two year training? If she is done, then why would she need a market adjustment? (Ok, that was 3 questions.)

Anonymous said...

Don't lump all principals into bucket that got market raises.. some of us got nothing.. it was the newbies who got them and now many are making as much as us who have put in many more years...
anonymous
take a closer look at the list..

Anonymous said...

I would be ashamed to walk in the first day to teachers who got little with them knowing I got a big fat 10,000 raise.. demoralizing

Anonymous said...

Ann,

Can you have CMS explain why many HR people received 4 pay increases over the past 5 years during a pay freeze?

It appears that they have been changing their job titles to justify these increases. Other CMS staff was assigned work from staff members that were laid-off after the 2007 study and never had that additional work added to their job descriptions. That alone should have been a reason to void the old study.

CMS response in one of your articles was that if they did not do the market increases, they would have had to pay for another study. Considering the 2009 collapse of the U.S. economy and all the lay-offs at CMS since the 2007 study, that would have been the right thing to do.

So if HR is not doing their jobs, why are they getting these title change pay increases?

It's past time for an independent Audit on this system!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey principal from 9:21...... None of you principals deserve market raises AND 3% raises. Your paid on a state scale and should be compensated the same way teachers are... You conduct meetings and tell people what to do......how does that warrant a raise?... The top heavy money sickens me. I have been in this field for 20years and watching principals rake in the cash while handing down orders is beyond criminal.

Anonymous said...

9:21-interesting! CMS has some type of contract with some organization allowing beginning teachers to rise faster up the pay scale & in leadership postions much faster than veterans. There is definitely some discrimination. Also great veteran teachers are never highlighted in the observer (just the newbies) giving the district the impression that veterans are worthless.

Anonymous said...

224 he is a principal not a teacher.

Anonymous said...

4:11...The principal in 9:21 didn't receive the higher pay because possibly b/c she/he is a veteran principal.

Anonymous said...

A principal in CMeS has no shame. They are just a small person in a political position.A third will leave again next year because as a politican and suposed leader they are found out as incompitent.Not bad for an extra 10 grand

Anonymous said...

It takes awhile for them to get on the RADAR. They are then exposed