Pay Raise Blunder in Carroll

July 22, 1992

Carroll County's school board blundered when it approved a $6,000 pay increase for the county's school superintendent, R. Edward Shilling, and a $3,000 raise to the deputy superintendent, Brian Lockard. Mr. Shilling's pay will be $104,626 and Mr. Lockard's $84,343 for the next school year. While the raises are a tiny amount in the county's $112.3 million education budget, they could exacerbate the level of aggravation among the county's school employees, parents and citizens.

School employees -- from teachers to cafeteria workers -- are angry because they were unable to get a multi-year contract during the last round of negotiations. Even though the June agreement calls for school workers to receive their scheduled step and longevity increases, several hundred employees won't receive any increases this year. For some, this will be the second year without higher pay.

The fact that the system's two highest officials were able to get raises while lower-paid subordinates could not indicates there is a double standard. At a time when school workers are making sacrifices, it is only fair that their top two bosses make similar wage concessions.

Parents are going to be upset, too, because Carroll's schools could lose some of its state aid to close Annapolis' budget gap. It does not look good when the superintendent and his deputy are handed raises while school programs are curbed.

Is the school board acting in their best interests of Carroll citizens? Board members said a clause in Mr. Shilling's contract calls for him to receive a raise each time others in the system negotiate increases. By the time the contract expires in three years, Mr. Shilling will be receiving $118,000 annually if school employees get annual increases during the same period. Why did the school board agree to such a contract in the first place? Shouldn't the superintendent's pay be determined by results rather than external factors such as pay raises? Does this linkage turn the school chief into a self-interested advocate for across-the-board pay raises? Is that any way to run a school system?

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