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Some school secretaries paid more than assistant principals

By Greg Gelpi

While the median income for a household in Clayton County is $42,697, some school system secretaries make well over that amount.

The Clayton County school system has eight central office secretaries making more money than the average Clayton County household.

All school system employees, except for Superintendent Barbara Pulliam, are paid based on a salary schedule, Chief Financial Officer Lee Davis, said. The system has 13 types of secretaries and pays secretaries on a range based on experience and responsibilities.

Central office secretaries start at $27,974.01 and can make as much as $64,007.52.

In comparison, the average professor at Clayton College & State University has a salary of $49,500, the starting salary for a Clayton County firefighter is $28,477 and the average nurse at Southern Regional Medical Center makes $50,772.80.

The school system cut 51 teaching positions, 44 physical education positions and two senior administration positions, along with other budget cuts, to counter a projected $25 million shortfall for fiscal year 2005 last month. Secretaries were unaffected by the budget cuts.

The starting pay for a Clayton County teacher is $27,650 plus a local supplement of $4,800, and an elementary school assistant principal starts with a salary of $56,902.92.

The numbers can't be directly compared, Davis said, since teachers are paid for working 190 days and central office secretaries are paid for working 240 days.

Davis said that school system personnel are paid based on the system's compensation handbook, a book that details the pay for each position based on education and experience.

"That drives the budget," he said. "The budget doesn't drive that."

The highest paid teaching level in Clayton County has a doctoral degree and 30 or more years of experience. Those teachers are paid $61,641 by the school system along with a supplement of $8,700.

While teacher salary increases based on education, degrees don't impact secretary salary.

Both Terry Porter and Judy Helms have 13 years experience with the school system, but Porter makes $28,820.76 and Helms pulls in $60,360.24.

The highest paid secretaries in Clayton County schools are Billie Lane and Gloria Rodgers, both of whom make $62,141.52. Other high paid secretaries are Gail Davis with $56,873.04, Rae Hobgood with $50,522.40 and Sharon Stone with $52,043.40.

About 89 percent of the school system's total budget is salaries, Davis said. Some central office secretaries perform "more than secretarial duties," such as handling money.

The average pay for a secretary in the state is $12.48 an hour, which totals $25,958.40 for the year. The average salary for all education positions in Clayton County is $38,604.