A member of the Johnston County School Board is going above and beyond to help teachers buy the classroom supplies that they need.
On October 12th, WTSB News reported exclusively that the four cabinet members serving under Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow all received large pay raises during a secret closed session meeting of the school board on August 8th.
At the same time, an average classroom teacher in Johnston County Schools received only a $350 raise this year.
School board member Ronald Johnson was the only member of the Board of Education to vote against the raises.
After the WTSB News story, Johnson said he began receiving phone calls, emails and texts from school teachers thanking him for standing up for them. Johnson said he also learned that many teachers were having to pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets. Some were told there were no funds available at their schools for basic supplies like staplers, copy paper and rubber bands.
In response, Johnson said he is donating his salary from the Board of Education in November and December to pay for classroom supplies in public schools across Johnston County.
It also comes at a time when the school system is weighing options on whether as many as 1,500 students who are projected to enroll in the Career and College Promise (CCP) classes at Johnston Community College in the 2018-19 school term may have to pay for a portion or all of their textbooks.
“With the concerns of the central cabinet and with students paying for textbooks, I have decided to give back the salary I earn as a member of the school board for the remainder of the year,” Johnson told WTSB News on Monday. “While this does not begin to cover all the needs of the school system, I hope this gesture shows my confidence in and appreciation of all teachers, teaching assistants, and other school staff in our county.”
Challenges Other School Board Members
Johnson also sent a message to his fellow school board members and to the cabinet personnel.
“We are entrusted to provide the best education possible, and it comes at the taxpayers’ expense. From the superintendent to the first year teacher, we are all public servants. I believe if you get rich in public service, then you’ve done the public no service. That is why I’m giving back my salary. I hope my colleagues will consider doing the same,” Johnson said.
Johnson said any teacher needing classroom supplies who had been told by administrators at their school no funds are available, to contact him directly. Johnson said he will personally shop for the supplies, as long as his money lasts, and will deliver them personally to the classrooms.
Cabinet Pay Raises
The administrative pay raises came under Dr. Ross Renfrow’s second year of leadership as Superintendent. Renfrow promised transparency to all stakeholders but the pay raises were discussed in closed session and the item was not placed on the August 8th public meeting agenda.
All the raises were backdated to take effect on July 1st.
August 2017 Salary Increases
Crystal Roberts, Chief of Communication
$105,000 to $115,008 (+ $10,008)
Brian Vetrano, Chief of Human Capital
$109,350,12 to $115,008 (+ $5,657.88)
Dolores Gill, Chief of Staff
$103,812 to $115,008 (+ $11,196)
Eddie Price, Deputy Superintendent
$109,612.68 to $125,004 (+ $15,391.32)
The total pay raises for the 4 cabinet personnel totaled $42,252.32, enough to nearly pay for one new teaching position in Johnston County Schools or to allocate approximately $1,000 more to each school in the county for additional classroom supplies.
School Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow is being paid $216,688.92 this year, more than Gov. Roy Cooper’s salary of $141,265, and higher than US Representative David Rouzer’s annual pay of $174,000 but less than Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrell pay of $295,695.
Merrell oversees 159,000 students compared to 37,000 for Dr. Renfrow. ($1.85 per student versus $5.85 per student) Merrell has been named state superintendent of the year 3 times.