Charter School Salaries Over $100,000: MOT, Newark Charter, Odyssey, Providence Creek, & Sussex Academy

These five charter schools are very distinctive in one area: they all have low populations of special education students compared to their surrounding districts.  But those aren’t the only comparisons among them.  Two of them have school leaders that received salary bumps over $50,000 and then resigned or are set to retire.  Pension law in Delaware sets your pension based on your three highest years of salary.  Intentional?  You be the judge.

These five charters range from near the top of Delaware in New Castle County all the way to the heart of Sussex County with one right near the middle in Kent.  All of these charters have significant student enrollment and have taken many students from their surrounding school districts.  They are also in very populous, and in some cases, fast growing areas of the state.

Both Newark Charter and Sussex Academy, along with Charter School of Wilmington, were the three main charter schools highlighted in the 2014 Delaware ACLU complaint against the Delaware Department of Education and Red Clay (the authorizer for CSW).  The U.S. Office of Civil Rights chucked the case for unknown reasons but the fact remains all three of those charter schools have been known to “cherry pick” students based on enrollment preferences and bad application questions.  While they are not allowed to use those questions on their applications any longer, their current enrollment preferences allow them to select certain students which forces other minorities and vulnerable populations from attending those schools.  MOT, NCS, and Odyssey (along with CSW) have the highest Asian populations in the state.  While Asians are certainly considered to be minority populations, Asians tend to perform better than other demographic groups.  Sussex Academy has made improvements in recruiting more Hispanic/Latino students to their school.

Newark Charter School did identify more students as needing special education in recent years, but at 7.1% they are woefully behind the Christina School District.  The other charters listed are in the 5% range for special education which is very low compared to their surrounding districts.  MOT could be an exception as the main surrounding school district, Appoquinimink, only has 6.7% for their special education population.

I’ve written a great deal about Newark Charter School since I began this blog.  I find their demographics, compared to Christina School District, to be offensive.  They are the only charter school in Delaware not required to file their taxes with their IRS due to ridiculous loopholes in the tax code set over 20 years ago.  As a result, they are the most non-transparent school in the state with their financial information.  Several legislators in our General Assembly act as a shield for the school when legislation comes around that could impact them in a negative way.  It is painfully obvious to those who pay attention to this.  They were the ones who initiated the lawsuit against the Christina School District and the Delaware DOE over local choice funding in 2016.  They brag about being the best school in the state and how they won the Blue Ribbon School status multiple times based on their standardized test scores.  But when you rig the system and council out students who don’t “fit the mold”, it is easy to do.  Since standardized tests are, more than anything else, socio-economic indicators, it is easy to get “high scores” when you manipulate the system.  I have no doubt the NCS crowd will take great offense to this and start ripping me (again) on their private Facebook page, but it is what it is.  It’s easy to complain when you don’t look outside your bubble.

Providence Creek Academy has been on my radar a lot since I began this blog four years ago.  One of the three charters to face major audit inspections in recent years, PCA was the only one that had NO convictions come out of the criminal activity going on.  That is testament to the power of the leaders there, Taylor and Erschen.  I firmly believe there are things going on there with finances that will never see the light of day.  And once again, the “I love PCA” crowd doesn’t seem to care.

MOT and Sussex Academy, while I do have issues with some of their demographics, tend to avoid the spotlight on this blog.  I have never written anything bad about them as I have with other charters.  I find that to be a good thing.

 

MOT CHARTER SCHOOL

K-12, Middletown

1,288 Students, 679 four years ago when K-8

3 Over $100k

 

DEMOGRAPHICS

African-American: 22.8%

American Indian: 0%

Asian: 11.6%

Hawaiian: .3%

Hispanic/Latino: 7.1%

White: 55.7%

Multi-Racial: 2.6%

English Language Learners: 1.2%

Low-Income: 5.3%

Special Education: 5.5%

 

SALARIES OVER 50k

Elaine Elston, High School Principal, $108,495

Ned Southworth, Head of School, $144,728 (four years ago former Head of School Linda Jennings’ salary was $125,845)

Mitch Weiss, Director Student Services, $108,492

 

NEWARK CHARTER SCHOOL

K-12, Newark

2,354 Students, 1,760 four years ago when K-9

7 Over $100k

 

DEMOGRAPHICS

African-American: 11.1%

American Indian: .3%

Asian: 13.5%

Hawaiian: 0%

Hispanic/Latino: 5.1%

White: 64.1%

Multi-Racial: 5.9%

English Language Learners: 4.2%

Low-Income: 8%

Special Education: 7.1%

 

SALARIES OVER $100k

Wendy Boonin, Primary School Principal, $124,035

Jessica Browne, Dean of Instruction, $104,084

Chris Kohan, Assistant Principal/Jr. & Sr. High School, $120,510

Greg Meece, Head of School, $156,300 (four years ago his base salary was $136,230 with other compensation at $17,557 for a total of $153,788.  It is unknown whether the school provided his current salary at just his base or his base plus other compensation)

Nick Russo, Assistant Principal/Jr. & Sr. High School, $121,000

Lisa Ueltzhoffer, Principal/Jr. & Sr. High School, $138,000

Jesse Wakeman, Principal Intermediate School, $121,632

 

ODYSSEY CHARTER SCHOOL

K-10, Wilmington

1,662 Students, 702 four years ago when K-6

3 Over $100k

 

DEMOGRAPHICS

African-American: 22.1%

American Indian: .4%

Asian: 13.1%

Hawaiian: .5%

Hispanic/Latino: 5.7%

White: 55.3%

Multi-Racial: 2.9%

English Language Learners: 3.5%

Low-Income: 14.4%

Special Education: 5.5%

 

SALARIES OVER $100k

Nick Manolakos, Headmaster, $168,500 (four years ago his salary was $115, 423.  He renegotiated his salary in 2014 and recently resigned.  Under Delaware pension law, your pension is set at your three highest annual salary amount)

Marina Mattheoudakis, School Dean, $104,758

Denise Parks, Supervisor Of Schools, $120,985

 

PROVIDENCE CREEK ACADEMY

K-8, Clayton

690 Students, 697 four years ago

2 Over $100k

 

DEMOGRAPHICS

African-American: 26.5%

American Indian: .4%

Asian: 2.3%

Hawaiian: .1%

Hispanic/Latino: 4.9%

White: 60.9%

Multi-Racial: 4.8%

English Language Learners: .9%

Low-Income: 18%

Special Education: 5.2%

 

SALARIES OVER $100k

Audrey Erschen, Principal, $127,500 (four  years ago her salary was $112,679)

Charles (Chuck) Taylor, Head of School, $170,000 (Taylor “retired” from PCA four years ago and served a brief stint as Acting Head of School at Campus Community, when he came back he got the board to raise his previous salary at PCA from $117,692 to his current salary of $170,000.  Delaware pension law states your pension is set at your three highest years of salary.  Taylor’s salary has been $170,000 for over three years now and he is retiring at the end of this school year)

 

SUSSEX ACADEMY OF ARTS & SCIENCES

6-12 ,Georgetown

759 Students, 412 four years ago when 6-9

2 Over $100k

 

DEMOGRAPHICS

African-American: 4.9%

American Indian: .8%

Asian: 5%

Hawaiian: .5%

Hispanic/Latino: 14.4%

White: 71.4%

Multi-Racial: 3%

English Language Learners: 1.2%

Low-Income: 9%

Special Education: 4.7%

 

SALARIES OVER $100k

Patricia Oliphant, Head of School, $125,980

Timothy Stafford, Director Finance & Operations, $120,674 (four years ago he made $106,604)

 

3 thoughts on “Charter School Salaries Over $100,000: MOT, Newark Charter, Odyssey, Providence Creek, & Sussex Academy

      • Hi Kevin,
        I’m new to your blog. A few questions:

        What is the significance of a salary above $100,000?

        What are some of the enrollment preferences and bad application questions used to screen students at some charter schools? And is this unique to Delaware, or does it happen in other states?

        Like

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