Monday, July 7, 2014

Sugar Creek Charter salaries posted

We've updated the charter school salary database to include employees of Sugar Creek Charter School, leaving Lincoln Charter School as the only school that hasn't provided names  (Chief Administrator Dave Machado has said his school is working on that list).

The Observer requested salary information from 22 Charlotte-area charter schools in March,  sparking a prolonged debate over disclosure that continues to work its way through the General Assembly.

Sugar Creek students at school choice rally with Gov. McCrory
I don't think the Sugar Creek names are  "stop the press"  news.  The school had already provided details for its top administrators,  withholding names of lower-ranking employees.

But I do think full disclosure is important.  As Rep. Charles Jeter learned when he introduced an amendment designed to block the Observer and other media from publishing salary lists for charter schools  --  the same kind of lists that have been published for employees of school districts and other public bodies for years  --  when you start trying to pull some information from public scrutiny you can create more problems than you solve.

If a broader discussion of salary discussion loops around in the coming year,  as Jeter has suggested,  I hope the people who want to limit public access to personnel data will be challenged to provide specific,  first-hand information on the harm that disclosure causes.  We heard dire predictions when we first posted Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools salaries in 2008.  I'm well aware that many individuals don't like seeing their salaries posted,  but I have gotten no reports that it disrupted public education.

Likewise,  some charter school officials and advocates said disclosure of merit-based salaries would lead to such turmoil on the faculty that students would suffer.  But since we posted the salaries in May,  along with articles analyzing teacher pay and administrator salaries in charters and CMS,  no one has contacted me or Observer editors to say their school fell apart.  Some charter directors have told me the articles helped dispel public myths about extravagant pay at their schools.

I hope any discussion will be precise about terms, too.  During debate over Jeter's amendment,  which the House approved,  he referred to the need to prevent disclosure of merit pay.  As I've noted before,  merit pay,  which is used in some charter and traditional public schools,  should make sense,  even if there's room to debate the results.  Market pay can be random. As one of my professors used to say,  the market is amoral.  The teacher in the next classroom may earn significantly more for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with fairness or ability.  That may be disturbing for teachers to discover,  but I suspect the real discomfort falls on the administrators who have to explain it.


Anonymous said...

CMS has always posted base pay. Any extra money earned such as a stipend, paid tutoring, and the old e.o.c. bonus money money has never been included. Charters can do the same. However, this brings up the charter argument of merit pay causing problems. A fair, transparent merit system should not cause trouble as employees should be well aware if they earned it or not and how much money was on the table. I believe the resistance by charters comes down to something else.....

David Knoble said...

Great article, Ann. At the end of the day, this has nothing to do with salaries and people and everything to do with transparency of spending public money. Reporting this information is one reason our democracy works. Non-profit organizations have very similar requirements and it promotes accountability. Why do we also report how our elected officials vote on our behalf? Accountability. Thanks for staying on top of this.

Anonymous said...

Public money should be open up to the public. Disruptions or not.....

Anonymous said...

If public money should be open to the public, why can't SNAP roles, FRL roles, welfare roles, etc. be made public?

Anonymous said...

For the life of me, I can't figure out why the Observer is so focused on figuring out how much each teacher is being paid at charter schools.

What's working well at CMS, charters and other schools, and what isn't? What can these schools learn from other parts of the country? These are difficult questions to research and answer, but they're important to ask. Instead the Observer is hell bent on documenting how much every last teacher is making at every single school. No matter how pedantic or unnecessary this process may be, the Observer will leave no stone unturned!

Anonymous said...

anon 8:55,
if you want to know why transparency is important I would suggest you google a guy by the name of Baker Mitchell, then Kinston Academy and then Student's first of Charlotte. What do these three have in common, they all ripped off the tax payers in the name of school choice.

I am not saying the traditional public schools are devoid of issues either. For instance Ann recently wrote a story about CMS creating 3 new highly paid admin positions. That story set of a firestorm of criticism and rightly so, because all three positions come will compensation packages well over 100K each. Yet CMS continues to plead poverty!

Personally I would like to see more articles written about charter schools. The charter schools themselves only provide the info they want you to have in order to self promote and market themselves.
I think it is important for parents to have as much info as possible and yes charter school teacher salary info is important, especially if you are concerned about teacher turnover in charters( which is an issue with many local charter schools)

Shamash said...

Anon July 8, 2014 at 12:43 AM

"if you want to know why transparency is important I would suggest you google a guy by the name of Baker Mitchell, then Kinston Academy and then Student's first of Charlotte. "

I find Ozie Lee Hall, Jr. to be an interesting fellow as well.

He was the CEO and principal at Kinston Charter Academy.

Seems that he's been involved in several charter schools with less than stellar results.

And, yet, he keeps popping up from time to time in various leadership roles for charters.

Last I heard, he was tapped to lead a newly proposed charter school in Harnett County.

Odd to me that the John Locke foundation would team up with a reparations-seeking "leader".

Strange bedfellows, indeed.

Anonymous said...

How can anyone stand there and make that argument when CMS teachers and other state employees have their pay published? I can see implementing rules like those for 990s for other nonprofits where you only list salaries for people in leadership and those meeting a certain salary or contract threshold.

Anonymous said...

Ozie lee Hall Jr actually helped himself to 10k worth of comp pay just as his school, Kinston Academy was closing, once more, he did so while many of the reaming teachers were not going to be paid.

Anonymous said...

the salary I want to see published is Jonathan Hage,

Anonymous said...

Sugar creek charter is one of those schools where everyone from the family works there. The principle was a cousin of the custodian. This teacher is the husband of this assistant. Kids are on the honor roll but yet still below grade level. We need to see how the money is being spent. The students don't even have books yet they give themselves bonuses every year.