IW superintendent may receive 12 percent raise

Published 3:23 pm Saturday, May 20, 2017

Isle of Wight County School Board member Vicky Hulick, who represents the county’s Newport District, confirmed on Tuesday following a morning work session that the board is considering increasing the salary of their superintendent, Dr. Jim Thornton, to approximately $163,000 annually. This would be a 12 percent increase from his current salary of $145,350.

Hulick also confirmed that it was Thornton himself who requested the contract renewal and raise. Thornton’s contract with the division will expire at the end of June 2018.

This is the second time the board has met to discuss the proposed raise and the first time that the specific dollar amount being considered has been released to the public. The first discussion of the matter occurred last week during the board’s regular scheduled meeting, but no details of the amount were given at that time.

Carrsville school board representative Jackie Carr said during the initial discussion last week, that she was supportive of the raise and felt that Thornton’s salary was on the low side compared to neighboring school divisions based on his years of experience.

Research conducted by The Tidewater News into the salaries of superintendents in neighboring divisions indicates that Thornton’s requested salary would be higher than Southampton, which pays its superintendent $145,000 and operates six schools, plus a career and technical education center and an alternative school. It is also higher than Franklin, which pays $125,000 plus a $500 per month car allowance, and operates three schools.

However, it would be below Surry, which pays $175,000 and operates three schools. It is well below Suffolk, which recently awarded its superintendent a raise to $200,000, and operates 18 schools plus a CTE school and alternative school. And it is well below Newport News, which pays $238,426 and operates 38 schools, plus five early childhood centers, three CTE schools, two alternative schools, a juvenile detention facility and a telecommunications center.

In terms of student population comparison, according to data from the Virginia Department of Education, Isle of Wight had a total of 5,451 students for the current school year. Southampton had a total of 2,750 and Franklin had 1,128. Surry had 826, Suffolk had 14,824 and Newport News had 28,843.

Carr appears to be correct that Thornton is one of the more experienced superintendents in the Southside Hampton Roads region. According to Isle of Wight County Schools’ website, Thornton has been a superintendent for a total of over 11 years, the past two with IWCS.

By comparison, the next most experienced appears to be Southampton’s Dr. Gwen Shannon, who has 11 years in that role, 10 of which were in another state. Franklin’s recently appointed superintendent, Tamara Sterling, will be in her first year in that role as of June. Surry’s Dr. Michael Thornton has one and a half years. Suffolk’s Dr. Deran Whitney has six and Newport News’ Dr. Ashby Kilgore has 10.

Lynn Briggs, IWCS’ director of gifted services, community and media relations, said Thornton’s proposed raise will be discussed further and possibly voted upon during the school board’s regular scheduled meeting in June.