Big raises for Charleston County Schools top employees

Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 3:54 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2022 at 1:58 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District’s many leadership changes come with big boosts in salaries this year.

Salaries for the district’s 10 most expensive employees jumped nearly 8 percent, cracking an expense of more than $2 million.

Superintendent Don Kennedy and Chief Operating Officer Jeffery Borowy saw the smallest percentage bumps of only two percent, while the rest saw jumps anywhere from 5-26 percent.

The top 10 highest paid district employees:

  • Don Kennedy, Superintendent: $246,595.10
  • Anita Huggins*, Deputy Superintendent: $204,654.86
  • Jeffrey Borowy, Chief Operating Officer: $204,654.86
  • William Briggman, Chief HR Officer: $204,351.21
  • Michelle Simmons*, Chief Academic Officer: $200,000.00
  • Anthony Dixon*, Chief of Schools: $198,000.00
  • Channa Williams, Chief Financial Officer: $194,370.00
  • Terri Nichols, Executive Associate Superintendent of Learning Communities: $188,870.40
  • Sherry Eppelsheimer*, Associate Superintendent of High Schools: $181,612.80
  • Jacqueline Haynes*, Associate Superintendent of Acceleration Schools: $181,612.80*Denotes a new position or new employee

The largest percentage increases come from employees who were promoted as part of the district’s restructuring effort. Michelle Simmons saw the largest jump, a 26% or a nearly $50,000 increase, when she moved from an associate superintendent to chief academic officer. That position was held by Karolyn Belcher last year at a slightly lower salary of $199,756.80.

This is a year with another round of big increases for administration. Last year the 10 highest paid employees saw a 13 percent increase with individual employees getting a range of increases from 2-26 percent. Chief HR Officer Bill Briggman, for example, received an $18,424.00 increase in 2021 and then another $29,351.21 boost in 2022.

Terri Nichols received a title change in 2021 when she went from associate superintendent of leadership development to executive associate superintendent of learning communities. That change netted her a $24,883.71 salary increase. In 2022, she got another $15,744.00 increase staying in the same position.

Overall, the number of district employees making over $200,000 a year has grown to five. Two years ago, only the superintendent made more than $200,000.

The salary adjustments are an effort by the district to recruit top-tier candidates. The chief salaries were adjusted, in part, out of equity concerns, according to the district. Now all the chief positions are roughly equal at around $200,000, with deviations accounting for the experience. Briggman saw the largest increases because his position was underpaid when compared to the other chief roles.

Salaries for most employees increased this year, not just the top tier. For example, most of the employees making $50,342.40 last year received a six percent pay increase this year. The school board approved significant raises for staff across the board. All teachers got their step increase plus a $2,000 increase. Step increases were also extended to year 30 of a teacher’s career. Non-teachers got step increases and a 2.3% cost of living raise and the district’s minimum wage was increased to $17 an hour.