North Carolina’s Top 10 Compensated Superintendents

This article first appeared at American Lens News on December 13, 2016.

A review of the current contracts held by North Carolina Superintendents shows a wide range of differences between districts in terms of local supplements and overall total compensation.

We took a look at the 115 superintendents currently employed in the state and found that the total salary value of all superintendents statewide was $17,901,068.  That total broken out by state and local total compensation came to $13,976,577 and $3,804,560 respectively.

We found that out of all 115 superintendents, only 10 were not receiving local supplement pay. The average superintendent local compensation was roughly $33,083. The average state level compensation was $121,535.46.

Our analysis found that the vast majority, 92, are male and 24 are female. Of the top ten paid superintendents, three are female who have a combined total compensation (not including benefits) of $738,675.28. Factoring in the benefits, valued at $49,440, the grand total for these ladies is $788,115.28.

The statewide Average Daily Membership (ADM) for these superintendents in North Carolina is 1,432,507 students.  With regard to ADM, the average superintendent compensation rate per student came in at $36.13. Please note, this number does not include charter schools ADM which is around 80,546 students.

Click to view state-wide compensation rates per ADM  

School District Cost Per ADM

The superintendent with the highest ADM rate was Dr. Randolph Latimore in Hyde County, who had total compensation of $118,628.40 and 584 students. Latimore is paid at a rate of $203.13 per student.

The superintendent with the lowest ADM rate was the top paid superintendent in the state, Wake county’s James Merrill. Wake has 156,768 students and his rate per ADM was $1.82.

A list of all superintendent compensation details, including overall totals and averages, can be accessed here.

As previously mentioned, the top paid Superintendent in the state is James Merrill of Wake County Public Schools. Records show that Merrill currently is paid $145,342.08 in local funds and $139,500.00 in state funds for a total compensation amount of $284,842.08.

Merrill’s pay roughly translates to the compensation of 5.7 classroom teachers at the new state average rate of $50,000.

The lowest paid Superintendent, not including interim appointments, was Dr. Will Hoffman in Tyrrell County, who received no local supplement and a total salary of $102,000.00.  The ADM for Tyrrell is 577, which translates into a compensation rate of $176.78 per student.

The Top Ten By The Numbers

The top ten paid Superintendents in North Carolina are listed in the chart below. Their compensation has been broken out by local supplement pay, state-level pay and the total overall compensation amount.

2016 top 10 Paid

Note: This chart is only state and local compensation. Additional income for Bill Harrison totaled over $85,000 in ‘donations’ and funds from Elon University. Harrison’s salary a year ago was $330,000 and had since likely increased.

Not including benefits, the combined total compensation for these top paid superintendents is $2,443,016.02 or a little over 13.5% of all superintendent compensation statewide. That is roughly almost 49 classroom teachers at the currently reported state average of $50,000 a year.

The average salary of the top ten compensated superintendents, not including benefits, is $243,301.60.

View Top Ten by Local and State Compensation

The value of benefits, which include retirement, health insurance, and Social Security, is around $16,480. Adding $164,800 to the total compensation for the top ten paid superintendents brings us to a grand total of $2,597.816.60.

With regard to pay rate per student, here is a look at the Average Daily Membership (ADM) and the rate each of the top ten compensated superintendents is paid per student.

Contracts details and perks for the top ten paid Superintendents can be viewed through this link. Note that the State Employees Health plan covers dental and vision as well.

Links to the full contracts of the top ten compensated superintendents are at the bottom of the article.  Additional superintendent contracts can be requested from this site the form of zip files by sending an email to

Full Contracts:

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips:
This entry was posted in Am Lens, Big Ed Complex, EDUCATION and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.