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2009 December 1 - 12:00 am

Board Approves $290K Salary for Ala. Chancellor

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The State Board of Education approved a salary of nearly $290,000 for Alabama’s new two-year college chancellor, who’s getting a 57 percent raise by moving from Georgia and accepting more responsibility.

The board voted unanimously for a three-year contract for Freida Hill, who will receive a salary of $289,900 annually, use of a state car, a $24,000 annual housing allowance, and up to $5,000 for moving expenses.

She can also earn up to $15,000 annually in performance bonuses. The board has not yet set the criteria for those bonuses.

Hill has been deputy commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia. The Alabama board voted unanimously on Oct. 30 to hire her as chancellor, and then three board members negotiated the contract that got approved. She starts her new job Dec. 1. She will oversee 21 community colleges, four technical colleges, 1 upper division college and one military institute.

Hill made $184,930 a year in her Georgia job, said human resources director Mike Sorrells.

Republican David Byers of Birmingham was one of the board members who negotiated the contract. He said the board agreed to pay Hill about $20,000 more than the national median for two-year college chancellors because Alabama’s system is unique.

Many states have separate leaders for academic two-year colleges and technical colleges, but Alabama puts both under one chancellor. Many states also have appointed boards for two-year colleges, much like a university board of trustees, but Alabama has an elected board.

“That seems to add an additional level of stress,” Byers said.

Hill’s predecessor, Bradley Byrne, received $268,500 in compensation plus the same car and housing benefits. Byrne resigned in May to start a Republican campaign for governor.

Byrne took over in 2007 after state and federal investigators launched a widespread probe of corruption and nepotism in the two-year college system under ousted Chancellor Roy Johnson. The former chancellor pleaded guilty last year to 15 federal charges, including money laundry and bribery involving contractors.

The new chancellor won’t have much time to adjust to her new job. The Legislature convenes Jan. 12, and she will have to push for funding for two-year colleges for the 2010-11 school year.

The school board voted to ask the governor and Legislature for a 13 percent budget increase for two-year colleges over this year’s appropriation, which has been scaled back to $374 million due to lagging tax collections.

Byers acknowledged it’s unlikely the Legislature can afford $423 million for next year, but he said the board traditionally presents a budget proposal that outlines its needs.

Hill did not attend the board meeting because she is trying to wrap up her Georgia duties, he said.

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