For years, The Charlotte Observer in North Carolina has posted public school employees’ salaries. This year, the paper decided to post more information.
“After working on an article about pay at community colleges, I realized there are additional sources of income, including state longevity pay. So I requested all of those sources,” education reporter Ann Doss Helms explained to readers.
The Charlotte Observer’s database now includes total compensation from salaries, bonuses, longevity pay, overtime, stipends for extra duties, allowances and fringe benefits – all of which are reported as income to the IRS.
The paper has also posted charter school salaries for the first time, which were difficult to get.
“The charter list was challenging, and not only because of the state’s misfire in initially saying charter schools weren’t required to provide the data,” Doss Helms wrote. “Each charter school is essentially its own district, which meant that even after that mistake was corrected and schools provided the data, it came from different sources in different formats, often with different job titles and abbreviations.”
So, why post salary information and people’s names? Doss Helms does a great job of explaining her process and why it’s important for the public to have access to the information.
An anonymous commenter agreed: “As a teacher who certainly has his salary listed on the CMS salary database…That was one of the best defenses of public disclosure of salary information for public employees that I have ever read. Keep up the good work :)”
The Charlotte Observer focuses on more than just schools. It has an extensive data center on it’s website, which includes salaries for state government, community colleges, universities, city employees and county employees. Readers can also search delinquent tax records, restaurant inspection reports and more.