A Look at the Philadelphia School District’s Top Earners

by Christopher Paslay

The Philadelphia School District’s top 655 earners (less than one-third of 1 percent of employees) make a combined $88 million in annual salaries.    

According to a Phillymag.com article by Larry Mendte published last June, there were 655 individuals working for the Philadelphia School District in 2011-12 making over $100,000.  Surprisingly, there were 98 teachers on the list.  Principals, who on average make $106,046, flooded the list and accounted for five of the District’s top 10 earners.

Not included on the list are this year’s newly minted one percenters, such as Superintendent Dr. William Hite ($300,000 annual salary), Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn ($210,000 salary), and newly appointed Chief of Family and Community Engagement Evelyn Sample-Oates ($129,162 salary); Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen who was receiving $25,000 a month in 2012 (for a grand total of nearly $300,000), did make the list although is not listed in the top 25 below because he’d only racked-up a nifty $122,988.48 when Mendte published the article last June. 

When totaling up all the 655 salaries over $100,000, it comes to $88 million.  This means one-third of 1 percent of the workers (the School District has 20,309 employees) gobble-up over 10 percent of the money (the District’s 2013 adopted operating budget allocates $879 million for salaries and wages).

Here were the top 25 earners working for the School District in 2011-12 according to the article by Mendte:

  1. Arlene Ackerman, Superintendent of Schools: $804,668.67
  2. Leroy Nunery, Special Advisor: $206,283.52
  3. Michael Davis, General Counsel: $171,247.48
  4. Penny Nixon, Chief Academic Officer: $170,096.13
  5. Michael Masch, Special Advisor: $168,840.82
  6. Debora Borges, Principal Empowerment School: $157,102.79
  7. Renee B. Musgrove, Principal Empowerment School: $151,776.93
  8. Donald j Anticoli, Principal Renaissance School: $151,161.70
  9. Edward Penn, Principal Renaissance School: $150,531.86
  10. Ethelyn Payne Young, Principal Renaissance School: $150,319.66
  11. John W. Frangipani, Principal Empowerment School: $149,645.96
  12. Otis Hackney, Principal Renaissance School: $149,147.04
  13. Charles Staniskis, Principal Empowerment Schools: $147,765.82
  14. Thomas Koger, Principal Non High Needs School: $147,687.99
  15. Mary Dean, Principal Renaissance School: $147,529.67
  16. Michelle Byruch, Principal Non-High Needs: $147,049.39
  17. Christophe Johnson, Principal Renaissance School: $146,809.37
  18. Amish Shah, Teacher: $145,743.55
  19. Woolworth Davis, Principal Renaissance School: $145,652.42
  20. Karen Kolsky, Assistant Superintendent: $145,423.45
  21. Lissa S. Johnson, Assistant Superintendent: $145,423.45
  22. Benjamin Wright, Assistant Superintendent: $145,333.45
  23. Francisco D. Duran, Assistant Superintendent: $145,333.45
  24. Linda Cliatt Wayman, Assistant Superintendent: $145,333.45
  25. Emmanuel Caulk, Assistant Superintendent: $145,333.45

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the 2,700 workers represented by SEIU 32BJ Local 1201, who provide cleaning, maintenance, and transportation services to the School District.  Nearly all of these workers make less than $40,000 annually—some as little as $25,000 a year.  The School District recently shook-down these hardworking blue-collar folks for an estimated $100 million in labor concessions over the next four years.

According to the new contract between the Philadelphia School District and SEIU 32BJ, which extends to August 31st, 2016, SEIU 32BJ members will contribute between $5 and $45 (depending on salary) to the School District each week, and agree to forgo planned wage increases in the future and freeze wages for the life of the contract.

This, of course, didn’t stop the School District from recently giving 25 non-union workers $311,351 in increases, which average $12,454 per year.  31-year old Christina Ward was given a 17 percent raise and promoted to Deputy Chief Financial Officer, and will earn $138,420 a year. Joseph D’Alessandro, now the Chief of Grants Development and Compliance, was given an $18,000 raise (16 percent) and currently makes $130,270.  And newly appointed Chief of Family and Community Engagement Evelyn Sample-Oates, who earns $129,162, was given a whopping 49 percent salary increase.

How will the School District cover the pay raises?  No one knows.  Not even the $100 million in labor concession squeezed from the District’s janitors and bus drivers will cover the tab.  According to projections in Dr. William Hite’s Action Plan v1.0, “The District has recurring expenses that exceed its revenues by over $250 million per year, amounting to a $1.35 billion dollar deficit over the next five years.”

And I thought only big corporations and greedy Republicans maintained wage gaps and pimped the working class.

13 thoughts on “A Look at the Philadelphia School District’s Top Earners

  1. Couple of questions:
    Does the income for teachers include health and retirement benefits, or is the amount listed for each salary only? What does the $800k for Ackerman include re:duties relative to income (such a huge gap between her income and the next listed)?

  2. Question #1: The numbers are just salaries, benefits not included. Question #2: The Ackerman salary is including the buyout of her contract.

  3. Hey Chris,

    Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen made approximately $300,000 in 2012. He was hired originally for 6 months at $25K monthly. His contract, which was set to expire in June, was quietly renewed for 6 more months. The SRC seems determined to keep him around, even though we have acquired both a superintendent and a chief recovery officer.

  4. Hi Lisa,

    Knudsen wasn’t listed in the top 25 because when Larry Mendte wrote the article last June Knudsen had only racked-up $125,000. But I did an update to reflect his salary.



  5. Chris,
    Larry Mendte did not take into account that many of these admistrators received rollover money for becoming 12 month employees. How much do most senior level corporate 12 month managers make?Look at the data from this years salary data base those salaries will have been reduced. Also, these individuals all have a minimum of 15 years experience with at least a Masters degree. Don’t just regurgitate someone else’s reporting how about if you do some of your own investigation! Knudsen is receiveing $30,000 per month. How about the infinite wisdom of the SRC to hire Hite at $300,000 and his two cronies at a total of over $500,000. How about that these individuals have not received a raise (the last of which was due 1/01/13 was just reversed) for 4 years. Meanwhile there were 25 individuals in the administration who received substantial raises per Knudsen’s reccomendation

  6. Jerry Jordan is listed at $148,421 in the 2010-2011 school year. He’s listed under Frankford High School. While the PFT reimburses the district for this cost, it’s fascinating that this “position” isn’t listed in the article. How many children does he impact or come in contact with? Teachers are getting screwed by more than the administration and SRC.

  7. Seriously speaking… as a teacher, what can I do to earn 6 figures without becoming an administrator? Please be detailed pls and thanks

    • the deputy superintendent of early childhood makes too much money since all she does is compare head start teachers to daycare providers and says we do an equal job of educating children…maybe she should work in a daycare center with it’s wonderful pay and working conditions..no degree needed

  8. Interesting data. The above-mentioned folks make the rules and money while the remainder of us with PhDs or Master’s work for less $80,000. When is the last time any of these individuals have actually created lessons plans and stood before 150 students for 50 or more minutes each day? When is the last time they give up lunch or a restroom break? How often do these people refuse to see or take parent phone calls unless threatened by someone a step or so further in the hierachy?

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