Arvon's pay to lead state

June 13, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Berkeley County's Manny Arvon is about to become the state's highest-paid county school superintendent and his pay has raised concerns from at least one local school official.

Arvon will be the state's highest-paid superintendent when his salary becomes $109,843 a year, the Gazette-Mail of Charleston, W.Va., reported in Sunday editions.

Arvon will make $127,157 in the last year of his four-year contract, the newspaper said.

The Cabell, Harrison, Kanawha and McDowell county superintendents round out the top five highest-paid.

As of July 1, Cabell County Superintendent William A. Smith will make $104,000. Harrison County Superintendent Carl Friebel will make $103,425. Kanawha County Superintendent Ron Duerring and McDowell County Superintendent Mark Manchin each will make $100,000 a year.


R. Steven Nichols, superintendent of Jefferson County Schools, earns $99,000, but his annual salary will increase to $108,900 by the end of the four-year contract he signed in February, school board President Lori Stilley has said.

Although some Berkeley County school officials said the salaries are fair and that Arvon "is worth every penny," Berkeley County Board of Education member Pat Murphy has had concerns with Arvon's pay.

Murphy said he voted against Arvon's contract because he was concerned that salaries for Berkeley County teachers are still behind their counterparts in neighboring states.

Murphy said he likes to live by the belief that "leadership comes after the troops. My biggest concern is that you put your people first. If you have one, you should have all," Murphy said Sunday.

Although Murphy said he has high regards for Arvon, he said the issues surrounding Arvon's salary were a "touchy situation."

Arvon defended his salary, saying a quick look at salaries being offered to educators in nearby Loudoun County, Va., shows the pay is not out of the norm.

There are some principals in Loudoun County who make more than any superintendent in West Virginia, Arvon said.

"It's amazing," Arvon said.

Arvon also said the salary is in line given the issues he faces. Berkeley County Schools currently deals with about half of the student enrollment increases in the state and the local school system has had to build seven schools in eight years to keep up with population growth, Arvon said.

"I earn every penny," Arvon said.

Arvon said he wants higher salaries for local teachers, but it's a tough fight given the fact teacher pay is controlled by the state.

Berkeley County Board of Education member Todd Beckwith said he supports Arvon's salary, especially in light of the daily pressures Arvon must deal with in guiding the rapidly growing school system.

A recent study estimated the county's student population will grow by 3,500 students by 2010, and that by 2015, Berkeley County will surpass Kanawha County as the largest school system in the state.

Howard O'Cull, who directs the West Virginia School Boards Association, said school boards often must offer high salaries to attract candidates. Counties that border Ohio, Maryland and Virginia compete against border-state school districts that routinely pay superintendents six-figure salaries.

Berkeley County Board of Education President Bill Queen recently researched salaries paid to superintendents in nearby metropolitan and rural areas and found that Arvon's salary is lower, Beckwith said.

"We feel like he's worth every penny. Manny has probably had opportunities to take jobs at higher salaries, but fortunately he likes it here," Beckwith said.

Arvon said he has been offered higher-paying jobs. "I just plan on finishing up here. It's simple as that," he said.

Board of Education member Bill Norris said he agreed with O'Cull's comments, but declined to comment further.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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