Georgia’s new school turnaround chief’s pay revealed

Georgia’s new chief charged with improving under-performing schools will be paid nearly twice as much as the state’s top education leader.

Eric Thomas was hired Wednesday as the state’s first Chief Turnaround Officer under a new state law that targets low-scoring schools for intervention.

Thomas, who leaves his role as chief support officer of the University of Virginia’s school turnaround program, will be paid an annual salary of $235,000 when he begins his Georgia job Nov. 16, the Georgia Department of Education said Thursday.

That is about $100,000 more than Richard Woods gets as the elected state schools superintendent and head of the education department. (A national education news report, Education Week, recently ranked him 41st in pay among state education leaders.)

Woods is in charge of an agency that administers about $9 billion in state funds. The General Assembly, meanwhile, has set aside about $2 million in direct funding and grants for Thomas’ nascent agency.

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Both men earn less than some local superintendents. Meria Carstarphen, for instance, the superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, gets about $400,000 counting base salary and allowances. She was taking in more than some other big metro superintendents based on a 2016 review by the AJC.

Thomas’ formal hiring came a week after the board settled on him as the finalist for the job, in open interviews with two other candidates. 

In other Education news:

The two suspects are scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

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