Spartanburg Superintendent Livin’ High on the Hog

Is a $14,400 annual travel stipend too small?

Feel free to request $6,000 in additional “conference travel” costs …you deserve it!

Even with the SC Department of Education expecting to deal with significant budget cuts, not a word has been said about district superintendent salaries and benefit packages. Classroom instruction and school buses might feel the bite of limited funds, but not the taxpayer-funded expense accounts of unaccountable district superintendents.

Just yesterday The Voice exposed the incredibly wasteful and unwarranted personal spending by the superintendent of Barnwell 19 school district. Sadly this kind of waste is the norm in many school districts around South Carolina.

Spartanburg County public schools are often held up as being some of the best achieving public schools in the state. Spartanburg School District 3 is among these.

What most parents in Spartanburg School District 3 probably do not know, is the extraordinarily large amount of money spent on and by Jim Ray, the District 3 superintendent.

The median income for a family living in Spartanburg County is about $45,000. Per capita income for the county is only $18,738.

Though 67% of students in the district are living in poverty, Ray has carved out an incredibly lucrative position for himself. In contrast to the families he “serves,” Ray makes an incredible $142,063 for leading and directing the under performing schools in District 3. This salary is over three times as much as the average family in his district, even before factoring in the $14,400 annual stipend for “local mileage,” and $1446 a year for dues to SCASA and the Rotary Club!

How do the schools under his care perform? Certainly Ray’s generous $151,909 salary package is justified by equally high performance?

Wrong. This is what the families in Spartanburg School District 3 are paying for-

The average 2008 SAT score in Spartanburg District 3 was only 1002, 15 points below the national average. Any claim at being a high achieving district is based on the notoriously underachieving districts elsewhere in South Carolina. Similar districts in North Carolina had average scores up to 177 points higher than the scores in Spartanburg District 3.

2008 PACT scores were also disappointingly low.

District-wide, only 47.2% of the 3rd graders in the district were proficient or advanced in English/Language Arts. This number dropped to 31% for 8th graders.

Only 27.2% of 3rd graders were proficient or advanced in mathematics. Only 14.5% of 8th graders were proficient or advanced in mathematics!

Poor minority students in the district fare even worse, with only 14.2% of 8th graders scoring proficient or advanced in English/Language Arts compared to the 34% of their white classmates. In mathematics, only 2.9% of black students scored proficient or advanced in mathematics, compared to the 17.3% of white 8th graders!

We would be doing wrong to say that this is all the taxpayers in District 3 are funding. Apparently Ray’s travel needs can not be met with his $14,400 a year stipend. In addition to this generous allowance, Ray ran up a $6,000 tab in “conference travel” costs and handed it straight to the economically disadvantaged residents in his district!

In the 2007-2008 school year, Ray’s personal travel expenditures to “conferences” could have purchased 1,846 gallons of diesel fuel.

Here are a few of Ray’s more important spending choices:

SCASA Superintendent’s Summer Conference: $1,531.71 How was Kingston Plantation?

SCASA Superintendent’s Winter Conference: $708.13 No doubt a productive follow up on the SCASA Summer Junket.

AASA Superintendent’s Conference: $1,831.24 How many people in District 3 could afford to do this? It doesn’t matter, they still paid for it!

No matter how bad the economic situation becomes, some people can use their position as “public servants” to insulate themselves from the problems afflicting the people they claim to serve. Jim Ray has clearly put himself in this position. He is above the worries of budget cuts, and above the worries of the children in the schools he oversees. The audacity of somebody in this position complaining about budget cuts, or asking for more money is astounding. Districts have ample money to meet their needs, even during an economic downturn. Measures must be put in place to ensure that this money is being used wisely and effectively to educate children. Those who are not capable of doing this need to be replaced with someone who will.

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21 responses to “Spartanburg Superintendent Livin’ High on the Hog

  1. I wonder if any of the teachers in the district realize how much this guy is spending and making? They are in the classroom day in and day out and make nowhere near as much.

  2. “What will happen if budget cuts keep buses from bringing students to school?” He doesn’t care enough to spare the district from picking up his own personal expenses!

  3. This is not public service! He needs to answer to the people in the district for this

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  5. Guess what, Anon1? He does answer to the people in the district – an elected board that answers to the taxpayers and voters.

    Guess what else? He doesn’t answer to you, this website, or the rest of the pro-voucher, anti-public school New York-funded jerks.

    This website is a joke …

  6. Home School Mom

    Kob,
    sure he “answers” to the board, and now that the people see the absurdity they can truly hold him to account.

  7. Kobayashi Maru

    Home,

    My guess is that since superintendent salaries as well as those of most local government leaders are reported heavily by the local media, the people of Spartanburg 3 are well aware of his salary. Apparently, they are fine with this and don’t consider it absurd.

    Dr. Ray, as well as all superintendents, principals, teachers (or “educrats” as this site likes to call them) are 100 percent fine with and in favor of accountability at all levels. It’s what they do.

    KM

  8. Home,

    I’ll try this again, since it’s a rare thing for these guys to let my comments through.

    It is my guess that Dr. Ray’s salary – like that of all local government leadership – is heavily reported and picked apart by the local media. Every time he gets a raise, every time he gets evaluated, it’s reported. The people of Spartanburg 3, apparently, are happy with Dr. Ray and the district despite the mud that’s dumped on them by outside interests.

    All superintendents, principals and teachers – “educrats” as dubbed by this joke of a site – support and welcome accountability at any level. It’s part of what they do.

    KM

  9. Pingback: Carolina Politics Online » SCRG Rooting Out Irresponsible Spending by Schools

  10. KM,

    Sorry, but if he receives any tax dollars or public benefits, he does answer to the public! Does this elected board make sure that the voting public knows how much money is being spent by this joker? Do the parents and teachers ( or even the board for that matter) really know? It’s called transparency! You can’t hold someone accountable for something you don’t know is going on, and that’s part of the problem. If you feel comfortable defending this guy’s spending, and have such solid arguments for it (“jerks”), there is probably nothing anyone can say to change your mind.

  11. People would be more upset…if they knew! This kind of thing is not exactly made easily accessible to people around here. Plus, some of this is so outrageous that many parents wouldn’t even think to ask about it.

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  16. I am a single mother who desperately wants to send my child to a Christian school. Are there vouchers or any help at all ? I am on a tight budget. How does this work? Does this mean that because I’m poor, that my child can’t attend a Christian school?

  17. Former District Three Employee

    Sad about Spartanburg District Three!
    Does not surprise me in the least. What is saddest, though, is the way the district is run. This district is under the control of a few families who run it for their own gain. This is the same school district that allowed a superintendent to change his daughter’s grades to make certain she was valedictorian before it made the press and he was forced to resign. When I was there in the 90′s, there were at least four assistant superintendnents , two who held doctorates from mail-order or correspondence schools.

    Because of the poverty in the school district, most parents are unaware. And because South Carolina has no policy for tenure, most school teachers will not speak up about a bloated bureacracy or an overpaid superinentendent. In a district as small as Disteict Three, Ray should be m aking no more than 100,000 per year.

    Shame!

  18. Local Taxpayer in Woodruff

    Spartanburg County School 7 and all the other school districts combined in Spartanburg county do not hold a candle to Spartanburg County School District 4 (Woodruff). Not only do we have the highest paid superintendent (and the smallest school district) in Spartanburg County, we have the worst performing superintendent in Spartanburg, Greenville, and Anderson Counties according to a study conducted by John Hopkins University (a world renowed research and teaching university). The only school district to be labeled a “Dropout factory” in these counties. His salary is probably closer to $400,000-$500,000 per year including all fringe benefits and retirement. SCSD 4 has the lowest per capita income in upstate SC. The Voice stated SCSD4 as quoting $2,000 for retrieving, copying, and mailing FOIA request. Actually, Rallie Liston quoted almost $40,000.00 to answer 42 questions. He refuses to be accountable for even $1.00 and allows zero (0) transparency. We have questions about recent expenditures $5,000,000 in ball fields and his business relationships with the contractor. Also, the relationship with a private concession vendor for ball games. All other schools surveyed used school organization and non-profit local organizations to benefit the community totally. Rallie Liston is paid $13,300 for in district travel. All schools are together and no more than 0.9 mile to reach all 4 schools. We need one school district in Sspartanburg County!

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