District plans to increase principal salaries

Principals in Rock Hill likely will be getting more than their annual pay raises this year.

The school board is set to approve pay increases Monday that are designed to make salaries for principals in Rock Hill more competitive with those in other districts.

The changes are based on a study conducted by a Columbia consulting firm, which said some positions in Rock Hill schools may not pay enough money to attract and keep the best people.

"We can't address everybody, but we can start somewhere, and I'd like to start with the people that are the most difficult to recruit and retain," Superintendent Lynn Moody said.

The study compared salaries in Rock Hill schools with those in York, Clover, Fort Mill, Chester, Lancaster, Dorchester Two and Richland Two schools.

For example, an elementary school principal in Clover earned an average of about $2,300 more than one in Rock Hill this year, according to salary data provided to The Herald earlier this school year. But an average elementary school principal in Rock Hill was likely to earn more than the average in York schools.

Differences exist in some other jobs as well, but taking every suggestion from the study would cost about $1.3 million. That's why Moody chose to start with principals, who are closely linked to student achievement.

The board is being asked to approve up to $250,000 for the changes. If any money is left over after the principals' pay is adjusted, the salaries for a group of support staff will be next, including technology assistants, accounting assistants, school food service clerks, directors' secretaries and others.

Administrators will get a 4 percent raise and teachers will get 5.85 percent more, but those are annual pay increases and were not influenced by the study.

Moody said school principals deserve the higher salaries -- some of which run to six figures -- because they are like CEOs of mini companies, who must manage instruction, food service, transportation and the facility itself.

"Principals work extremely long hours," Moody said. "They have afternoon and night events -- their day doesn't end when the bell rings."

Still, the changes will mean that anyone who reaches the top of the pay range for their job won't get a raise until cost of living goes up enough to warrant one.

School board member Jim Vining said the salary increases could help attract job candidates from outside Rock Hill.

"I'm going to go to the area that starts me out in a higher range," Vining said, referring to salaries during the last school board meeting. "You have to wonder, are we missing out on people who aren't applying to our district because of what our salary schedule is?"