Three principals - Greg Killingsworth at Lumberton High, Tommy Lowry at Pembroke Middle and Walter Jackson at Townsend Elementary - were promoted to assistant superintendent positions, and all will be paid about $100,000 a year, around $20,000 more than their predecessors were being paid. Each was given a two-year contract that takes effect July 1.
Additionally, two other assistant superintendents, Danny Stedman and Linda Emanuel, were given two-year contract extensions that include significant pays raises.
Principals are an obvious pool when fishing for assistant superintendents, but in this county their recruitment has been complicated by the fact that some would face a pay cut by a promotion to the central office. That roadblock has now been removed.
For Superintendent Johnny Hunt, the hirings are long overdue. Hunt, just 10 and a half months into that job, has been short-staffed for essentially all of that time. Two assistant superintendents left last August, and a third did so in January, and all left for better-paying positions. That led Hunt to ask for the pay study that, while needed, had the unwanted dual effect of further delaying hirings.
We wouldn't suggest that the central office has been stuck in neutral, but it is reasonable to conclude that there is work that has been piling up. In six weeks, Hunt will have a team in place so the to-do list should begin shrinking.
Also on Monday, board members were told that the independent firm that conducted the pay study had interviewed 612 school employees, but no teacher assistants, an omission that apparently will be corrected. The board balked at approving the pay study, and plans a work session on the issue when the study is comprehensive to the board's satisfaction.
The most vocal critic of the study may have been board member Millicent Nealy, who grasps its gravity.
“I don't think these issues can be resolved in a 20-minute session,” she said. “This is a big issue, with lots of money, jobs and people involved.”
The board appears determined to ensure that the system's employees are being fairly compensated and, while some of that work is behind it, the hard work remains.