Prince George’s school board members call top-level pay raises ‘excessive’

WASHINGTON — Three Prince George’s County Public Schools board members are making what they call “common sense requests” after learning some school employees recently got large pay raises.

When three members of the school board in Maryland looked into how much those cabinet members are paid, they found one received a 36 percent pay hike between 2015 and 2017, amounting to almost $50,000.

Another cabinet member saw a salary increase of $46,409 between 2013 and 2017, and a third received a $35,758 increase between 2015 and 2017.

Kevin Maxwell, CEO of schools, has the power to hire members of his executive cabinet and set their salaries.

“(They were) very large raises in a very short period of time, while at the same time Dr. Maxwell opposed a 4 percent teacher pay increase just a couple months ago,” board member Edward Burroughs told WTOP.

“To me, it seems like Dr. Maxwell cares about himself and a handful of executives more than our teachers and support staff that work with our students every single day,” he added.

In a letter sent Wednesday to County Executive Rushern Baker, Burroughs and fellow board members Raaheela Ahmed and David Murray call the increases “excessive and reckless.”

The letter makes four requests and asks Baker to respond within one week:

  1. Place a moratorium on all executive cabinet hiring and salary increases.
  2. Reverse Baker’s Law (HB 1107), which gave the PGCPS CEO the ability to hire unlimited executive staff and set their salaries.
  3. Place an additional $1 million in the 2019 school year budget for classroom teacher school supplies.
  4. Work with Maxwell and the Board of Education to increase teacher and support staff salaries by 4 percent in the 2018-2019 budget.

Asked by reporters at a Wednesday event about the executive level raises, Baker said: “I’m certainly sure that’s something that the school board members could bring up in their discussions.” Baker said he does not oversee the executive cabinet hiring and salary decisions that Maxwell makes.

Maxwell responded to the board members’ letter with the following statement:

“The Chief Executive Officer has the authority to hire and set salaries for executive cabinet. Current salaries for the identified positions are on par with large urban school systems and historically lower than neighboring jurisdictions.

“For the past several years, cost-of-living adjustments for executive staff have been the same as those given to teacher and administrator bargaining units and approved by the Board of Education.

“Since my arrival, I have decreased the number of executive cabinet members by not hiring for new positions. Salary adjustments for the identified positions were due to greater job responsibilities, improved pay parity and/or increased cost of living.

“I have made improved employee compensation a budget priority since my arrival and approved more than $100 million in teacher raises, in particular, over the last five years after several years of salary freezes. I believe strongly that much more work needs to be done to make Prince George’s County teacher salaries — and all employee salaries — more competitive with neighboring school systems.”

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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