Augusta University President Brooks Allen Keel (left), Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen (center) and Gwinnett County Public Schools CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks are some of the highest paid officials in Georgia education. (AJC staff)

Who has the highest salaries in Georgia schools and colleges

During debates on teacher pay and retirement benefits at the state Capitol each year, one of the most repeated lines is that educators don’t get into the profession for the money. 

They get into it because they love what they do, they say. And the money bit is certainly true for a vast majority of k-12 teachers and many college professors. The average pay for teachers in Georgia is about $55,000, and the starting salary out of college is about $34,000. 

But there is good money for those at the very top of the education pay scale, the big-city school superintendents, top university administrators and professors who are leaders in lucrative fields, according to figures from the state’s salary website, Open Georgia. 

For fiscal 2018, which ended June 30 of last year, the highest paid person in state government, k-12 schools and the University System of Georgia was University of Georgia football coach Kirby Smart, who Open Georgia listed as earning $6.425 million. That such coaches at nationally renowned schools make big money isn’t surprising. 

Below are some of the top salaries for non-athletics department coaches and staff in fiscal 2018, according to Open Georgia.

Top superintendents pay

February 29, 2016 Suwanee - Gwinnett County Public Schools CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks speaks during an interview with the AJC. Wilbanks has been the superintendent in Gwinnett for for 20 years. TAYLOR CARPENTER / TAYLOR.CARPENTER@AJC.COM
Photo: TAYLOR CARPENTER / AJC/taylor.carpenter@ajc.com
Name District Salary
Alvin Wilbanks Gwinnett County $569,375
Meria Carstarphen Atlanta City $461,918
Morcease Jamar Beasley Clayton County $387,344
Jeffrey Rose Fulton County $367,153
Robert Green DeKalb County $334,200
Curtis Jones Bibb County $324,000
Jeffrey Byron Bearden Forsyth County $311,542
Gene Hamby Buford City $308,000
John Jackson Floyd County $294,687
Marie Levett Savannah-Chatham County $275,542

University presidents

Brooks A. Keel, President of Georgia Southern University, said becoming president of Georgia Regents University "would be a unique opportunity to return to both of my alma maters that now comprise GRU.”Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/ccompton@ajc.com
Name College Salary
Brooks Allen Keel Augusta University $872,786
George Peterson Georgia Tech $871,771
Jere Morehead University of Georgia $860,843
Mark Becker Georgia State $594,951
Jaimie Hebert Georgia Southern $441,131
William Kenneth Harmon Kennesaw State $365,290
Kyle Marrero West Georgia $348,559
Richard Carvajal Valdosta State $341,340
Chris Markwood Columbus State $337,616
Paul Anthony Jones Fort Valley State $325,068

Other faculty and staffThis is a sample of what other notable university employees make and not a list of the highest paid workers.  

Name Title School Salary
Vinayak Kamath Professor and chief of cardiothoracic surgery Augusta University $949,019
Cargill Herley Alleyne Marshall Allen Distinguished Chair in neurosurgery Augusta University $934,404
Viswanathan Kumar Regents professor in marketing Georgia State $886,964
William Jeffrey Rosenblum Professor, Director of Orthopaedic Trauma Augusta University $767,254
Rafael Bras Provost Georgia Tech $635,266
Maryam Alavi Dean of business school Georgia Tech $587,458
Sudheer Chava Director of the quantitative and computational finance program Georgia Tech $518,276
Arun Rai Chairman of IT-enabled supply chains and process innovation in the business school Georgia State $512,182
Nathan Bennett Associate Dean for program innovation and professor in the school of business Georgia State $490,909
Pamela Whitten Senior vice president for academic affairs, provost University of Georgia $429,200

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