By Anne Lowe

PUBLIC INFORMATION – The Orange County Register announced Wednesday it will be issuing a series of reports detailing the compensation of nearly 72,000 employees in the county’s 27 school districts.

The 2009-10 pay for every school employee who earned $25,000 or more will be published in the reports, as will information for employees of the Orange County Department of Education. The titles, work locations, education and experience will also be listed for each position, and the totals will be compared to figures from previous years.

The Register explains:

We hope this project helps dispel myths about school pay, replacing timeworn beliefs with hard facts about how much money employees earn each fiscal year, along with the advanced degrees and years of experience they possess to secure those wages.

Where possible, we account for the many additional tasks employees perform to elevate their salaries above the base salaries published on their district websites.

We also expect community members will help deepen our reporting, viewing the data through the lens of their unique understanding of local campuses and districts.

Some have argued that we shouldn't release names along with salaries, that it poses an unnecessary invasion of privacy. They suggest we should stick to salary schedules or reports of base salaries paid. Some have threatened lawsuits should someone use the data for criminal purposes. Some have suggested we release our salaries as a pledge of our sincerity.

In the past, we have reported on base salaries, even adjusting them for regional cost-of-living differences so we could compare across the U.S. But those figures fall short – sometimes by tens of thousands of dollars – of the actual compensation some school employees earn thanks to advanced degrees, longevity and extra duties.

As for our salary information, we are employees in private industry. As such, our salaries are already known to our stakeholders – those who own and manage our company.
Some privacy concerns did move us, though, and we offered to exclude some employees who faced serious, documented risks to their safety. . .

We will also print only those salaries of $25,000 and above – aside from school board members – which cuts our database to about 37,000 employees. This is a standard practice at the Register . . .