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Senator Kevin Johnson sends letter concerning Superintendent pay

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I keep reading with interest the articles that are being written in our local newspapers in reference to the salary of the Superintendent of the Clarendon County School District. Before this consolidated school district became official on July 1, 2022, Clarendon County had three school districts, Clarendon 1 in Summerton, Clarendon 2 in Manning and Clarendon 3 in Turbeville. Clarendon 2 had more students than the other two school districts combined. 

On July 1 2021, Clarendon 1 and Clarendon 3 consolidated to form Clarendon 4. It is my understanding that the Superintendent of Clarendon 4, a district with less students than Clarendon 2, paid it’s Superintendent over $200,000.00. Dr. Johnson was paid $140,000.00 or approximately $60,000.00 less than Clarendon 4’s Superintendent. I don’t necessarily have a problem with these salaries because in both cases the school board unanimously approved the salaries and benefits of the Superintendents. However, with so much criticism about Dr. Johnson’s current salary, where was/is the  criticism as it relates to the salary in Clarendon 4. 

I think The Item is reporting that Clarendon 4 paid $216,000.00 and Dr. Johnson, who currently serves as the Superintendent of all of the schools in Clarendon County makes $225,000.00. So Dr. Johnson makes $9000.00 more, but the article does not mention that the Clarendon County School District has more than twice the students of Clarendon 4 and many more employees . In addition to that, by an agreement with the school district, Clarendon County Council and Central Carolina Technical College, F.E. DuBose Career Center is now back under the control of the school district as it once was. 

Dr. Johnson is a highly respected experienced school superintendent. District 2 has been lead in a professional manner under his leadership. Our teacher shortage, which is a major issue throughout our country, is no where near as bad as is the case in other districts throughout SC. While the finances in the district is and has always been in great shape, the SC Department of Education had to take over the financial affairs of District 4. The State Superintendent asked Dr. Johnson’s finance department to assist District 4. Again, where is the outcry and criticism about that. 

The issue of travel allowances was also mentioned in the articles. Many might be surprised at how many superintendents have cars that are provided by their school district. Not only superintendents, but look how many city and county administrators and other top local and state government officials have ‘company cars’. There is nothing at all wrong with that at all but the articles don’t mention that. It mentions Dr. Johnson’s allowance which he uses to drive, not a school district vehicle, but his personal vehicle. 

The article compares Dr. Johnson’s salary to the salary of Superintendents of some of our state’s largest school districts but fails to mention several obvious facts. First of all, regardless of the size of the districts the superintendents responsibilities are basically the same. A superintendent cannot shirk certain responsibilities because he or she has  fewer students. Secondly, take a look at the organizational charts of some of our larger school districts. They tend to have more assistant superintendents and other supervisory positions to help fulfill the job requirements and responsibilities than small rural districts. Next, in many vital positions, like education and healthcare, for example, oftentimes you have to offer more salary and other benefits to attract quality and well experienced people. Sometimes superintendents and doctors and even teachers might accept less pay in order to work where they feel that the quality of life is better and where there are more amenities for them and their family. 

So, Dr. Johnson makes $225,000.00 to be the superintendent of the district for the entire county and the superintendent of Clarendon 4 was paid a little less for a much smaller district where their were issues with the  finances. Keep in mind that he does not determine his salary and benefits. Those are school board decisions. Dr. Johnson is not required to live in the district but neither were the other 2  superintendents in the county. Again, these are school board decisions. I could go on and on but my point is that if there is currently outcry and criticism in reference to Dr. Johnson, where was all of these complaints before him. I say this without saying rather the salary is too high or not or to opine as to where the superintendent should live. I think we should compare apples to apples and I think that what is good for the goose should be good for the gander. 

The mission of the Clarendon County School District is “Unified as One-Educating and Empowering Students.”  Dr. Johnson’s salary is less than one half of one percent of the total budget of the school district. Can we join him and the other administrators and staff and put more emphasis on the mission of the school district and less on the superintendent’s salary?

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