- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2005

The former interim superintendent for D.C. Public Schools will receive a $50,077-a-year pay raise for a new school system position created for him, financial documents show.

Robert C. Rice last year earned a $124,923 salary as the school system’s assistant superintendent for standards and curriculum and acting chief academic officer, records show. When he was promoted to interim superintendent for five months last year, his salary rose to $175,000 a year.

Mr. Rice stepped down from the interim job in September, but pay documents show he is still receiving his interim salary as a “special assistant to the superintendent” — a position created for him. The newly created job makes Mr. Rice one of the highest-paid employees in the school system and in city government.

The school system last year had one special assistant to the superintendent, a position that paid $52,936 a year, according to pay documents. This year, pay documents show that the system has two special assistants to the superintendent: Joyce Matthews McNeil, who earns $64,101 a year, and Mr. Rice, who makes $175,000 a year — or $210,000 a year, including benefits.

School officials declined to comment on why Mr. Rice’s salary for the new position is the same as the interim superintendent’s salary.

“I do not question paying our top administrators competitively, but the question is how many positions it takes,” says D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat and chairwoman of the education committee. “I think there is a general sense that the dollars need to go to the local schools.”

Mrs. Patterson, whose committee oversees the school system, noted that school officials are considering laying off hundreds of teachers and other staffers in coming months and struggling to find money for repairing dilapidated school buildings.

Meanwhile, the D.C. Office of the Auditor earlier this year disclosed that it is looking into the growth of annual salaries of more than $90,000 throughout the school system.

In addition, the school system has said it is conducting its own internal “comprehensive payroll audit,” according its proposed 2006 budget. The document notes that the school system has struggled for many years to produce accurate personnel and payroll data.

Nonetheless, an analysis of school system financial documents shows that Mr. Rice isn’t the only school executive earning more money this year:

• Peter G. Parham earned a base salary of $86,400 last year as director of interagency partnerships. As chief of staff this year, Mr. Parham will earn $151,050 — a 74.7 percent increase.

• The Board of Education’s executive director, Russell A. Smith, earned $105,040 last year and will earn $115,090 this year.

Two other officials in schools Superintendent Clifford B. Janey’s senior circle of administrators rank among the highest-paid school employees, records show.

Both Thomas M. Brady, chief of business services, and Meria Carstarphen, chief accountability officer, are to earn $170,000 in 2005. They were hired in the fall by Mr. Janey as part of a move to overhaul operations in the school system.

By comparison, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams makes $149,200 a year, and D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp earns $139,200.

Mr. Janey earns $250,000 in base salary, not including $50,000 in benefits this year, records show.

Detailed school system salary information is compiled in the District’s Schedule A financial document for fiscal 2004 and 2005. Schedule A lists all funded positions and their compensation levels, including whether jobs are filled.

The Board of Education approved the 2005 Schedule A last month, and copies were sent to the D.C. Council upon approval.

According to those documents, there are 10,018 employees in D.C. public schools and 487 vacant positions, with annual salaries and benefits totaling $585.8 million.

The Board of Education’s approval of Schedule A noted that 88.32 percent of school funding went to employees in instructional jobs, 6.88 percent for support, 2.55 percent for central office and 2.25 percent for state support.

Overall, personnel costs are up only slightly systemwide, according to 2006 budget documents. The system’s approved budget for regular pay, benefits and overtime in 2004-2005 was $588 million. This year, school officials are proposing a 1.6 percent increase to $597.5 million.

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