Such generosity we Orange County taxpayers show. Why, just look at the salary and benefits package we are paying County School Superintendent Del Burns — an annual rate of nearly $300,000. Add up his base pay, health coverage, a monthly car allowance of $250 and another $50 a month toward his cell phone, and we are paying Burns $24,621 a month. That generous, some might say exorbitant, pay is for working only three-quarters time. His contract grants him five paid vacation days every month.
Burns is not the highest-paid county schools superintendent in North Carolina. But those who receive comparable pay oversee school systems with three to eight times the number of students in Orange County. And his peers likely work full time.
What makes Burns worth a compensation package that equals the salary of the president of the United States? According to county school board chair Steve Halkiotis: “He has brought a level of professionalism in our operations and systems that was much needed. … He has rejuvenated the staff.”
Sounds like a basic part of the job description to me.
Certainly teachers, who make in the $30,000 to $60,000 range, need some shoring up after the dissing they got by the General Assembly and governor during this past election year. Will seeing the riches showered on their boss have a trickle-down effect on their morale?
Orange County has extra money in its pockets this year, due to a combination of higher sales tax revenue from the recovering economy and higher property taxes that come from valuations made before the real estate market crashed. But that doesn’t mean we should spend like drunken sailors.
The Orange County schools have some serious problems of failing buildings and failing students. We need to give careful consideration to how to spend to maximize the benefit to the community. Paying someone to stay in a job he doesn’t want does not seem the right path.
Burns’ contract is for five months only. Apparently he was so ready to leave the job before the end of the school year that his devotion had to be bought. An employee who is only there for the money likely is not fully engaged. The county would have been better off appointing an interim superintendent who really wants the job.
– Nancy Oates