Hairston will earn $180,000 a year

Balto. Co. school chief to be one of highest-paid superintendents in state

March 16, 2000|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County's new schools superintendent, Joseph A. Hairston, will earn $180,000 a year, which will rank him among the four highest-paid school chiefs in the state.

Hairston's contract -- which entitles him to the use of a county vehicle, an annual $10,000 contribution to the tax-sheltered annuity of his choice and 54 paid vacation days, holidays and personal days -- expires June 30, 2004.

The 52-year-old Georgia educator, who spent 27 years in Prince George's County as a teacher and administrator, will start his new job in Towson July 1.

The salary Hairston negotiated with the Board of Education is higher than those of all but two other superintendents in the state.

Jerry D. Weast in Montgomery County is paid $237,794, and Robert Booker in Baltimore is paid $185,000.

Hairston will earn the same amount as Howard County Superintendent John R. O'Rourke, who was hired last month.

Hairston's annual pay will be $43,000 more than that of Baltimore County Superintendent Anthony G. Marchione, who makes $137,376. Marchione will retire in June.

Unanimous approval

School board members unanimously approved Hairston's appointment at a meeting Tuesday night.

They met later that night to finalize Hairston's salary and benefits, including a moving allowance not to exceed $10,000 and a temporary living allowance worth $1,500 a month for up to six months.

Hairston will probably receive two paychecks during his first year on the job because of a consulting contract he holds with the Clayton County, Ga., school system, where he was superintendent for five years before resigning in January.

`Contract is binding'

"I would think our contract is binding, regardless of what may or may not have happened in Maryland," said Gary Sams, an attorney who works with the Clayton County school board. "Our contract contemplated the possibility of him having another job. No one in Clayton County could come up and say the Georgia contract is null and void because he has a job in Timbuktu."

Hairston's Clayton County contract is worth $190,000 for the 18 months ending in June 2001, school officials in Georgia said.

Baltimore County school board members have made it clear that they expect Hairston to spend most of his time working for them.

The contract Hairston signed early yesterday stipulates that he make a "full-time commitment to Baltimore County Public Schools."

Hairston will do much of his work for Clayton County on weekends or after hours, said Sams, who added that the Georgia school system might need to "access his institutional memory" or depose him for lawsuits filed during his tenure there.

"If his contract [with Baltimore County] is so exclusive that he can't talk to someone on the telephone, then he needs to talk to me so we can work something out," Sams said. "I'm hoping it won't come to that."

Marchione started in 1996

Hairston's appointment ended months of anxiety over who would replace Marchione, a school system insider who calmed the county when he took over as superintendent in 1996.

Marchione followed Stuart D. Berger, who was fired in 1995 after upsetting parents, teachers and county officials by making brash management decisions without widespread public support.

Hairston has said he won't make any changes without appropriate public input.

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