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New Wake Superintendent Could Come With Higher Price Tag

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Experts say the Wake County Board of Education can expect good candidates for the county's school system superintendent to come at a higher price than what current Superintendent Bill McNeal is currently getting paid.

McNeal announced Tuesday that he will retire in June 2006 after almost six years in the position, and more than 26 years as an educator in the Wake County Public School System.

With about 121,000 students, the Wake County school system is one of the largest in the country and candidates who can manage the size and growth are hard to come by.

The current yearly salary for a school system, like Wake County, is between $250,000 and $300,000, and does not include bonuses. In comparison, McNeal currently makes about $212,000 a year

Across the country, Miami-Dade County, Fla., pays about $500,000 a year to the superintendent; Jacksonville, Fla, pays $290,000. Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth, as well as Las Vegas, all pay their superintendents $300,000 a year.

Wake County school board members must decide what they are willing to pay and whom they are willing to hire.

"It's the biggest decision a school board has to make," said school board member Carol Parker.

Parker wants to look at candidates both inside and outside the school system, including those who do not have a background in education.

But even if the board does not consider a business leader, board member Ron Margiotta thinks business leaders may help with the expense of hiring a new superintendent.

"If not with the salary, with benefits that could reduce the cost to taxpayers," Margiotta said.

Other perks to entice candidates can include money for housing and even cars.

And the superintendent job is competitive, even in North Carolina, where the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system is also searching for a new superintendent.


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