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Charleston County Salary Bait & Switch

on Mon, 12/01/2014 - 13:26

“Where Did $8.5 Million in Salary Funds Go?”

Hint: Not Where CCSD Said It Went

Charleston County School District crowed about spending $8.5 Million to bring salaries closer to market values for chronically underpaid employees.   So where is it?



Scroll down for details.

Meanwhile, CCSD's "rainy day fund" has gone from $20 Million to $70 Million since 2007.

It even went up while salaries were frozen during the recession.

Some board members have been receptive to these issues.  Others…uh, less so.

Please keep in mind, you’re talking to both groups.

Ask them to “Make It Right”. 
Pay EVERY employee a full-market salary.


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Next Board Meeting: Monday 12/8.
5:15PM – 75 Calhoun St.
Sign up @ the door to share your concerns.


“Don’t Believe Everything You Read in the Paper”

Especially if it has anything to do with CCSD’s salary study. 
These press clippings were echoed in memos to staff:

“Of the district’s roughly 5,500 employees, 1,020 will not get a raise because they were already earning more than the market rate according to the study…
No one’s pay will be cut, but they won’t be eligible for raises until the job market catches up to their salaries, said Michael Bobby, the district’s Chief Financial Officer.”

Post & Courier 7/15/14

The district has reluctantly admitted that this special experience was also shared with teachers and classified employees who were previously underpaid.

The district even took money away from them…up to $42,000 in career earnings.

They chose not to leave most people anywhere near their market value.

Anyone making more than 95% of what the study said they should be making is frozen for now, and will be DRAGGED DOWN to 95% over time.

Well, not everyone…

  • Principals were given HIGHER raises than the salary study recommended. 


  • Salary spending for District-office administrators went up 20%.

After 5 months, nobody can tell me how many there are, or how their old salaries compared to market data.

The only thing that’s clear is that they’re costing $3.4 Million more than last year…the same increase shared by 3,300 teachers.

  • Most teachers with Bachelor’s degrees were brought UP to 99% of market. 

Recruitment tool?  Nope.  BA starting salaries went down.  Read on for another theory…


The board agreed to pay half of the difference between employees’ actual salaries and what was determined to be the fair market value of their positions.

That means if an employee is making $40,000 and the study found that position should be paid $50,000, the employee will see a $5,000 raise.”

Post & Courier 2/12/14

OK we know that’s not true.  How bad was it?

The more education a teacher had, the lower the percentage of their recommended increase they were given.
A BA teacher with 20 yrs got 73% of their recommended increase
($1529 vs. a $2105 recommendation).
An MA teacher with 20 yrs got 5% of their recommendation.
($165 vs. $3,034).

Heaven help you if you had a PhD and 20 yrs.

That salary is now $2,700 less than it was on the old schedule
($3,300 below the recommendation).
Their salary is now frozen, and when they start moving again, every year will pay less than what they were promised on the old schedule.

Every teacher with an advanced degree is now stranded $1900-$3600 below-market.

  Why would CCSD do that? 

None of the explanations I’ve been given match the facts.  Confronted with these inconsistencies one official replied:

“I don’t want to divulge everything that was discussed.”

Here’s something else nobody wants to discuss…

While this salary schedule was being developed,
the SC Dept. of Ed shot down CCSD's request
for permission to stop paying teachers extra for advanced degrees

(as part of their BRIDGE merit-pay program).

That’s odd…a year ago, someone assured us there was no such plan .  What was her name again?


“We will begin moving toward a new comprehensive classification and salary structure, which will create consistency and equity across all employee groups…
Our new comprehensive structure is manageable, more transparent and scalable for future adjustments.”

Nancy McGinley, memo to staff 6/14/14


District officials flatly denied any knowledge of these discrepancies in how $8.5 million of your tax-dollars were spent.

The same public servants later described them as the deliberate and inevitable result of decisions made with their direct involvement.

Offered the opportunity to fix them discreetly, District leadership refused.

You may hear that this is all a big misunderstanding.  Read the full report and decide for yourself.


 Back in July, CCSD told the media that these salary adjustments reflect the value they place on employees.

Now, I’m concerned this one may actually be true.
CCSD employees have been underpaid for at least a decade. 

Teachers were denied their full salary for four years during the recession. 

Very few SC districts did that.  Most tried to minimize the impact by using “rainy day funds”.

Would it surprise you to learn that CCSD’s cash reserves WENT UP during 6 of the last 7 years?
In 2007, CCSD had $20 M in reserves. 

At our last audit, we had $70 MILLION. 

Two-thirds of that money is completely unrestricted and can be spent on ANYTHING.

During the entire recession, our fund balance dropped just $2M.

We could weather 20 more recessions, and still have more money than we had in 2007.


Salary freezes, furloughs, and underpaying salaries by $17 Million a year made it a whole lot easier to balance the books,
and a whole lot harder for employees to pay their bills.

CCSD says these reserves are “vital” to our financial health.

Dorchester 2 has the same bond rating with a 13% reserve that we have with a 20% reserve (Aa2).

CCSD achieved even higher ratings in 2007 when our reserves were $50M lower.

There’s no reason we can’t pay every employee a salary that matches what they could make in a comparable district.

We can’t afford not to attract and retain the very best to serve our kids.

Ask the Board to “Make It Right”.  Pay EVERY employee a full-market salary.


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