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New superintendent to be paid $225,000 annually

New Troup County School System Superintendent Brian Shumate will be paid significantly more than previous Superintendent Cole Pugh was paid.

Shumate, who will start July 1, will be paid $225,000 annually, well above the $167,738.94 that Pugh made in fiscal year 2018. The LaGrange Daily News received a copy of Shumate’s contract through an open records request. 

“We had lots of discussions with the search firm, who knew what national trends were and what it took to attract and retain someone with those characteristics,” said Troup County School Board Chairman Kirk Hancock. “We obviously looked locally at the Georgia districts and what people were paying, and we wanted to make sure we had a competitive offer to get the right person.”

The board openly discussed a significant pay increase for the next superintendent during its first meeting with search firm McPherson & Jacobson in September. 

At that time, the board realized the school system was likely lagging behind other systems of similar size in Georgia. 

“It is far more important to get the right person, the right leader who can cast the vision and implement it than to try to manage a compensation level that would put that whole process at risk,” Hancock said.

Shumate will earn about the same salary as he has in Oregon. According to the Mail Tribune, his contract  in Oregon was renewed a year earlier than necessary in June 2018 and had a set salary of $212,000 with $8,000 and $10,000 salary increases set to take effect the next two years.  

Shumate will make more than his peers in surrounding counties, although each school system is vastly different in size. According to OpenGeorgia.com, he’ll earn more than Harris County Superintendent James D. Martin ($171,000.14), Heard County Superintendent Rodney Kay ($147,491.44) and Meriwether County Superintendent Timothy Dixon ($129,756.48). However, the Troup County School System has more students (12,115) than all three of those systems combined (10,124). School enrollment numbers are from the Georgia Department of Education and were last updated in October. 

Shumate will also make more than two other nearby superintendents who oversee school systems larger than Troup. According to OpenGeorgia.com, Muscogee County Superintendent David Lewis made $189,386.69 in fiscal year 2018, and Coweta County Superintendent Steven Bruce Barker made $207,240.12.

According to the contract approved in August, Roy Nichols, the current interim superintendent for the Troup County School System, is being paid a monthly salary of $15,862.74 during the months he works as a temporary, full-time employee. 

Superintendents in the state averaged approximately $160,000 in pay during fiscal year 2018, according to information from Open Georgia. The highest superintendent salary in Georgia is $569,375.11, which is earned by the Gwinett County Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks. 

Based on fiscal year 2018 numbers from Open Georgia, Shumate’s contract would be in the top 20 in salary in the state. 

Hancock said if the school system had offered the salary it did in the past, it would not have had nearly the same caliber of candidate. There were 52 total applicants for the position.

“We would not have interviewed anyone that we talked to,” he said.

Hancock said the school board debated the salary over the course of the search and determined a pay increase was necessary. 

“It’s a lot of money. We understand that, and it’s the public’s money, and we are very sensitive to that,” Hancock said. “At the end of the day, I think we stayed-laser focused on the attributes we want and think we need for a successful leader. We did everything within our ability to attract and get that person.”

Shumate’s contract is for three years and will start July 1, 2019 and end June 30, 2022, unless it is extended or terminated beforehand. 

Shumate will also be paid $900 per month for mileage and automobile expense, which is to allow him to visit various school and administrative sites. 

Shumate will also be paid $14,000 in moving expenses as he relocates from his current home in Medford, Oregon. 

“That’s a relatively small investment to get the person here to show it is a joint process,” Hancock said. “I hope he’s here many years and if you spread that across many years, it’s not very significant.”

The Troup County School System will also pay the cost of three roundtrip coach class tickets from Atlanta or Birmingham to Medford for Shumate to travel back and forth between Oregon and Troup County. Shumate will also be paid $950 in temporary living expenses for a period up to six months. The temporary living expenses will no longer be paid once Shumate officially moves to Troup County. 

Shumate is required to maintain a permanent residence in Troup County under the terms of the contract. He is required to establish a permanent residence in Troup County no later than Jan. 1, 2020.