WASHINGTON - Records show there have been massive salary increases for executive staff members in Prince George's County Public Schools, with some employees receiving between $35,000 and $50,000 in just a few years.
While pay increases in most school systems would have to be approved by the school board, Prince George's County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell has sole authority to dictate the salaries of his executive team.
Some of the raises include:
- The deputy superintendent got a raise of $46,000 over four years for a total salary of $222,144.
- The chief of Strategic and External Affairs received nearly $50,000 in three years for a total of $188,058.
- The director of Employee Performance and Evaluation 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.
"Dr. Maxwell is treating the school system budget like it's a personal slush fund," said Prince George's County School Board member Edward Burroughs.
He has long been an outspoken critic of Dr. Maxwell. Burroughs along with board members David 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.
"I think the takeaway is there has been no accountability," Murray said. "Not for Dr. Maxwell, not for central office. And they are willing to do and get away with whatever they can because they are not being held accountable."
Dr. Maxwell declined a request for an interview Tuesday. 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."
Joshua Starr, the former superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, agrees that the salary amounts for top staffers are not outside the norm for a large school district. But he said the raise amounts are atypical.
"It sounds unusual in comparison to the way most school systems work," Starr said.
He said traditionally, raises for school system central office leaders are comparable percentage-wise to teachers and other staff. When Prince George's County Public Schools teachers and principals get a yearly raise, it is typically three percent. Teachers are quick to point out that their salaries were frozen for several years.
"It's typically what you do," said Starr. "But that also goes in front of the school board and, of course, in Prince George's County, it's a little different situation. And the superintendent, the CEO, has a lot more leeway."
Maxwell's statement also noted that he has approved $100 million in teacher raises in the five years he has held his position. But Burroughs said teachers deserve more, especially when central office staff is making out so well.
"I think our teachers are going to be livid," Burroughs said. "And at the end of the day, there is only so much more they can take before they decide to go somewhere else."