Talk radio is a nonstop focus group, monitoring the prevailing and changing feelings about the issues of the moment. Every day, I talk with callers at radio station IQ 106.9 FM, and I either learn something new or they provoke me to learn more.
So when a caller told me he shouldn’t have to pay higher taxes to save the Philadelphia schools when the school district has “hundreds of administrators making six-figure salaries,” I decided to find out if the premise of that statement is true.
Responding to a right-to-know request, the school district provided a list of 655 individuals working for the school district who have a job that pays more than $100,000, or who have earned that amount or more with overtime and other payments.
There may be more. In a letter, Jessica A. Diaz, the open records officer for the school district, was clear that the request is “granted in part and denied in part.”
The list includes at least seven people who no longer work for the district. So, far and away, the top earner over the past year is former superintendent Arlene Ackerman at $804,688.67. Ackerman and her severance settlement sit in the top spot with almost $600,000 more than the second-most compensated on the list, “special advisor” Leroy Nunnery, who earned $206,283.52. The salary for Chief Recovery Officer Thomas E. Knudsen is $300,000, but he has only received $122,988.48 from the district since being hired in January. There is no compensation listed for the man who hired Knudsen, Pedro Ramos, chairman of the School Reform Commission.
There are 98 teachers on the list. The top-paid is Amish Shah who received $145,743.55. Shah earned $72,210.93 in base pay and $73,532.62 in “other pay.” The second-highest-paid teacher is Barbara Jo Bess Pashak, who earned a base salary of $95,752.56 and another $36,933.19 in “other pay” for a total of $132,685.75.
If you total up all of the salaries on the list, it comes to about $88 million. The number is close to the $94 million the school district claims it needs from the City of Philadelphia to open schools this fall. The district will get less than half that amount in the budget expected to be approved by city council this week. The $40 million will be raised with another increase in the property tax and an increase in the use and occupancy Tax, also known as the business tax.
This brings us back to the IQ 106.9 caller who said he shouldn’t have to pay an increase in taxes to pay for the “hundreds of administrators making six figures” in the Philadelphia School District. Everything about the caller’s statement is true.
6 Top-Earning Teachers
1. Amish Shah, $145,733.55
2. Barbara Jo Bess Pashak, $132,685.75
3. Michael Hawkins, $130,821.40
4. Patricia Harrell, $121,684.91
5. Carol E. Walton, $121,133.85
6. Karen Kelly Nickens, $119,394.41
25 Top Earners, District-Wide
1. Arlene Ackerman, Superintendent of Schools (Resigned) $804,668.67
2. Leroy Nunery, Special Advisor (Active) $206,283.52
3. Michael Davis, General Counsel (Active) $171,247.48
4. Penny Nixon, Chief Academic Officer (Active) $170,096.13
5. Michael Masch, Special Advisor (Super Annuate) $168,840.82
6. Debora Borges, Principal Empowerment School (Active) $157,102.79
7. Renee B. Musgrove, Principal Empowerment School (Active) $151,776.93
8. Donald j Anticoli, Principal Renaissance School (Active) $151,161.70
9. Edward Penn, Principal Renaissance School (Active) $150,531.86
10. Ethelyn Payne Young, Principal Renaissance School (Active) $150,319.66
11. John W. Frangipani, Principal Empowerment School (Active) $149,645.96
12. Otis Hackney, Principal Renaissance School (Active) $149,147.04
13. Charles Staniskis, Principal Empowerment Schools (Active) $147,765.82
14. Thomas Koger, Principal Non High Needs School (Active) $147,687.99
15. Mary Dean, Principal Renaissance School (Active) $147,529.67
16. Michelle Byruch, Principal Non-High Needs (Active) $147,049.39
17. Christophe Johnson, Principal Renaissance School (Active) $146,809.37
18. Amish Shah, Teacher (Active) $145,743.55
19. Woolworth Davis, Principal Renaissance School (Active) $145,652.42
20. Karen Kolsky, Assistant Superintendent (Active) $145,423.45
21. Lissa S. Johnson, Assistant Superintendent (Active) $145,423.45
22. Benjamin Wright, Assistant Superintendent (Active) $145,333.45
23. Francisco D. Duran, Assistant Superintendent (Active) $145,333.45
24. Linda Cliatt Wayman, Assistant Superintendent (Active) $145,333.45
25. Emmanuel Caulk, Assistant Superintendent (Active) $145,333.45