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April 18, 2014

PNG salary study reveals lows, highs

GROVES — Port Neches-Groves ISD board members learned how their salary compensation holds up to other school districts.

Elvis Arterbury, professor of educational leadership at Lamar University and a longtime consultant, was tapped by the district to perform a salary compensation study which he presented at a recent board meeting. The findings shocked some trustees.

Arterbury looked at districts with a student population 1,000 above and below PN-G’s.

“What was a little unique to me was some districts gave extra days to the football coach and a small stipend while others gave a large stipend and little or no extra days,” Arterbury said. “It appears to me they are all comparable without a lot of deviation.”

Board President Rusty Brittain wondered about the comparison with “another group from across the tracks,” thus alluding to Nederland Independent School District.

“I know compensation is one thing but they’re paying more in the whole program,” Brittain said.

The head football coach at PN-G has a stipend of $2,050 with 10 extra days while Nederland coach brings in $2,500 with 15 extra days. Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD pays a $2,200 stipend with 10 extra days.

PN-G and Nederland baseball and basketball head coaches have a $3,100 stipend while LC-M pays $4,300 for the baseball and basketball stipends.

Arterbury said he doesn’t see a significant difference in salary and doesn’t believe a coach would leave PN-G to go to a neighboring school for more pay.

“When I look at it it looks like LC-M pays more with no extra days,” board member Lana Parker said.

NISD and LC-M pull ahead when comparing the salaries for junior varsity baseball coaches: PN-G pays an $850 stipend, NISD pays a $2,000 stipend and LC-M pays $2,300.

For Arterbury, it’s all in how you look at the figures

“When I look at that I didn’t think $1,000 was a lot,” Arterbury said. “If you’re getting $1,000 it doesn’t seem like a lot but if you’re not getting the $1,000, it seems like a lot.”

The study also covered teacher salary compensation. PNG’s pay scale begins at $37,590 with a maximum salary at $60,082. NISD teachers in their beginning year bring in $39,000 with a maximum salary of $65,258.

The average teacher salary in PN-G is $45,122 and NISD’s is $48,738, according to the report.

“We are lower then Nederland and several other districts. I’m shocked. I thought we were the same,” Parker, who is also a retired educator, said.

Parker also noted the disparity in the pay scale for assistant middle school principals. PN-G, with 208 duty days has a pay range from $52,986 to a maximum of $79,689.

NISD, with 217 duty days, has a pay range from $55,220 to $80,288.

Trustees agree that a good salary is a must when attracting the best teachers and coaches but it all comes down to the budgeting process.

But tweaking a salary compensation scale is easier said then done and involves many factors.

“If you use a salary schedule you need to be tweaking it every five years or so, adjust it a bit,” Arterbury said. “But you still will never get beyond the amount of money you can pay. You can’t really fix a salary schedule without budgeting money for it.”

Mike Gonzales,  PN-GISD assistant superintendent for administrative services, said there have been issues with administrators going back into the classroom because the salary is higher there.

“Once you attack that and start it, be prepared to stick with it to the end,” Arterbury said. “I’d be careful with that. Once you open up anything that has to do with salaries , 80 percent of employees think they’re getting a pay raise.”

Rodney Balsamo, vice-president of the board, turned the comment back to Arterbury.

“So what you’re telling us is don’t open this can of worms. Our job as board members is to look at this. If you never start, you’ll never get it done,” Balsamo said.

The salary compensation report is the third of three study’s requested by Superintendent Rodney Caveness. Consultants for a demographic study and a facility study presented their findings to the board earlier this year.

No action was taken on the report.

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews

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