WASHINGTON - Several Prince George’s County school board members are calling for a halt to executive staff salary increases after records revealed massive pay increases in the school system’s central office.
Over the last few years, Prince George's County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell awarded some of his direct reports with raises of $35,000 to almost $50,000.
On Wednesday morning, Edward Burroughs, David Murray and Raaheela Ahmed sent a letter to County Executive Rushern Baker highlighting examples of what they called “excessive and reckless salary increases.”
They called for additional raises for teachers, more money for classroom supplies as well as a “moratorium on all executive hiring and salary increases.”
"Dr. Maxwell is treating the school system budget like it's a personal slush fund," said Burroughs.
In most school systems, the pay increases would have to be approved by the school board, but because of the structure of Prince George's County Public Schools, Maxwell reports to the county executive and has sole authority to dictate the salaries of his executive team. Baker confirmed that there is no oversight.
“I don’t oversee the salary and hiring of Dr. Maxwell's staff,” he said. “That’s what he does. And certainly that is within his prerogative long as it does not step outside of the rules, and so far I haven’t heard anything that does that.”
In a rare break with Maxwell, a statement from the full board says they are “concerned” about the raises and “have specifically asked that the CEO provide an explanation for the increases.”
Records reveal the deputy superintendent got a raise of $46,000 over four years for a total salary of $222,144. The chief of external affairs received nearly $50,000 in three years for a total of $188,058. The director of employee performance got $35,000 in three years for a salary of $137,125. The head of communications got a bump of $25,000 in just one year for a total of $141,044.
Elementary school teacher Kendall Howard said she was shocked to learn of the high amounts of the raises, especially as a teacher who often uses her own cash for needed classroom supplies.
“I have a choice to let the students go without or I can go reach out of my own pocket,” said Howard. “They claim that we don’t have money to get extra supplies, to fund this and to fund that, but we have money to give secret pay raises to people in central office.”
Another teacher, Rachel Man, said at issue is “transparency, trust and respect.”
“To find out that as we struggle to meet our students needs, our CEO has secretly given certain people raises is more than just a little disheartening,” she said. “That money could have gone to buying much needed supplies, but evidently, that is not what is important to Dr. Maxwell. It's clear who is prioritized in the county, and it's not teachers or students.”
Dr. Maxwell declined a request for an interview. In a statement, he said in part, "Current salaries for the identified positions are on par with large urban school systems and historically lower than neighboring jurisdictions."
The statement went on to say, "Salary adjustments for the identified positions were due to greater job responsibilities, improved pay parity and/or increased cost of living."
Burroughs, Murray and Raaheela Ahmed recently exposed unauthorized raises given to six employees in the school district's human resources office. The raises, some as high as 10 to 12 percent, needed to be approved by the school board, but were not. The news prompted teacher protests, calls for a sickout and instatement of work to rule. An investigation into whether there were additional unauthorized raises in the central office is expected to be finished Thursday.
Stay with FOX 5 for more on this developing story.