WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - School leaders in Palm Beach County are reacting after a Contact 5 Investigation which revealed the large number of administrators and educators making six figure salaries in the district.
After digging through state numbers, the Contact 5 Investigators discovered the district has at least 124 people making more than $100,000 a year.
After watching the report, Palm Beach County School Board Chairman Frank Barbieri said he has requested more detailed information, trying to figure out why some of the salaries with the Palm Beach County School System don't add up to other counties its size like Orange County.
"You're bringing up some interesting statistics that I wasn't aware of," said Barbieri. "This is something that we'll be looking at certainly," he said.
If you compare the salary data with a district like Orange County, which has about the same amount of students, state numbers with the Florida Retirement System show only 26 people there are making salaries in that pay range. Also, the cost of living isn't that much higher.
"We're apparently at two-and-a-half percent higher according to the state than Orange County and I don't think that two-and-a-half percent justifies the huge difference in salaries between us and Orange County," said Barbieri. He also said it's difficult to digest the numbers at first glance and wants to look at more detailed data between both counties. He also said Palm Beach County has many experienced employees with many degrees who have worked for the district for many years.
The results of our Contact 5 Investigation come as school leaders are trying to balance the district's dwindling budget. They're making 35 million dollars in cuts. Plus, next year's budget could be even tougher to balance.
"I think it's going to be worse so we're going to continue looking at some of the information you brought forward, maybe it's an area where we can figure out how to cut some of those expenses there too," he said.
In a written statement Superintendent Bill Malone said in part, "I was very disappointed in the story that aired last night. By all accounts our market area is Southeast Florida, including Palm Beach County, Broward County, and Miami-Dade County. The story seemed to assume that Miami-Dade and Broward do not exist."
The Contact 5 Investigators did not include that data in the original report because they focused on districts that are of a similar size to Palm Beach County. Miami-Dade and Broward counties have at least 80,000 more students than Palm Beach County.