Imagine if you will, you work at a fast food restaurant as a manager. It’s a small community so not only are you expected to be the manager but also, cook the food, unload the truck, and clean the restrooms, all the while stopping what you are doing to cheerfully wait on any customer that may come in to ask questions about the menu.
Just the next town away the manager of the same brand of restaurant is responsible for just being the manager-and- he makes more than you. This is the scenario faced by many in our community, not the least of which is our School Superintendent, Dr. Eddie Campbell.
Campbell fills all the duties of his office but also serves as personnel director, fills the duties of an assistant superintendant, is heavily involved with the curriculum development and professional development, and oversees co-ordination of Federal programs in our schools. Most counties have separate personnel directors who’s salaries run between $60,000.00-$80,000.00 a year. In Fiscal year 2013, Campbell, who holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, was being paid only slightly higher than a lesser position in other school systems. Tucker County Board of Education has historically had the lowest paid superintendent in the state, while our neighboring counties are paying over $110,000.00 on average, and often offer a county vehicle with 24/7 usage and comprehensive benefits package. According to salary.com the average school superintendent, not necessarily with a Doctorate makes an average annual salary of over $145,000.
Under the current terms of Dr. Campbell’s contract , which was voted on in March and goes into effect July 1 , he will make $115,00.00 this coming year, and years two through four will receive a 3.5% increase per year at which he will “top out” at $125,664.00. Campbell’s salary was never contingent on funds from the narrowly failing levy. The levy, had it passed, would have not gone to his salary. A copy of the levy and what it would have paid for can be found on the official Tucker County Schools Website under the levy info tab.
In order to keep Dr. Campbell, who has become a highly sought after candidate, the board knew they’d have to bring his salary more in line with at least the state average.
According to Board of Education Vice-President Janet Preston, ” From my understanding we brought his salary up to match the average for superintendents across the state. That was important.”
Board President Jared Parsons was unavailable for comment.
A study conducted by West Virginia University said that there will be a fifty percent shortage of qualified school superintendents within the next five years. Dr. Campbell has been offered many other jobs just in the last year, every one of them offering more money than this year’s salary, and several offering more than his year four contract amount. He has not only had offers in other counties in West Virginia but also as far away as Alaska and China.
When asked why Campbell stays here when he could go elsewhere and make more money, Dr. Campbell replied: “We love it here! My wife, son, and I enjoy the community, the people here, the schools. I want to see the school system be successful in order to do that there needs to be continuity.”
Dr. Campbell mentioned the fact that the high school had gone through 13 different principals in a 12 year period and the detrimental effect that can have on students.
“If it were my preference, this would be the last job I’d have. I’d stay till retirement”, Campbell said.
Dave Lambert, Director of Finance, Tucker County Schools, said: “Dr. Campbell expressed to me early on that his desire was to stay here and make Tucker County Schools the best we could be. I knew that in order to do that, we would need to be more competitive with our salary.”
Lambert also added: “We put a lot on our school system to provide a solid, consistent plan for educating our youth. A major part of that is consistency and stability in our administration both at the building and county level. We are striving for one vision, a singular approach shared by all schools in the county. Dr. Campbell is a key piece to making that happen. He has a vision for where he wants us to go, and I believe we have made tremendous improvements in our schools system. Without that vision and direction, I feel that our gains would be lost and we would be starting over from scratch.”
In a county where, according to the US Census bureau, the median household income is $36,445.00 and the median house value is $102,800.00 it is easy to see why there was some grumbling about the superintendents salary. However, a very clever maneuver on our behalf has benefitted the county greatly. Last year we as a county footed all of Dr. Campbell’s $89,000 salary. This coming year and future years the funding for Dr. Campbell’s salary is going to come from a mixture of county and state aid funding. Recently the county school system was able to include the superintendent’s position under the state aid formula. This move allows us to receive funding for the teacher salary equivalent of Dr. Campbell. Dr. Campbell’s 25 years of experience and Doctorate allows us to receive $54,021 from the state under funding for professional personnel leaving us to only account for $60,979 of his salary. In the final year of his new contract we will only be funding $69,880.