Beaufort News

Singleton says pay did not increase

Strive to Excel president and CEO Tim Singleton, whose compensation increased more than 40 percent in one year, according to tax records -- has said his pay actually didn't increase at all. That's because the figures don't reflect reimbursements Strive pays to the Beaufort County School District for the salary, health insurance and other benefits it provides for him, he said.

For his work at Hilton Head Island High School, where he also is the Seahawks' football coach, Singleton receives pay in at least three forms -- a salary from the district, a coaching stipend from the district and a compensation package from Strive.

According to federal tax records Strive files as a nonprofit, Singleton's salary and benefits from the organization went from $97,355 in 2008-09 to $138,582 in 2009-10, an increase of $41,227, or 42 percent. The rise in compensation apparently came without approval from Strive's board, as the organization's bylaws require.

Several attempts Tuesday and Wednesday to reach Singleton for further explanation of his compensation were unsuccessful. However, district spokesman Jim Foster answered several questions posed by The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette, which are paraphrased below.

Question. Is Singleton paid by the district as an independent contractor, or does he receive a payroll check, as a teacher, administrator or other employee would?

Answer. He receives a payroll check.

Q. Does the district pay the same portion of Singleton's health-insurance premiums and other benefits, such as retirement, as it would for any other teacher, administrator or employee?

A. Yes.

Q. How long has that been the case?

A. From the beginning of his employment.

Q. Singleton has stated that the salary paid to him by the district, which allows him to qualify for benefits, is then paid back to the district. Is this accurate?

A. Yes. Strive reimburses his salary and the district's costs for his benefits.

Q. Has this always been the case?

A. Yes, except for one school year, 2008-09, when Singleton was the director of the district's Project Success program. Reimbursements resumed after Singleton resigned from that post effective May 29, 2009.

Q. Do other employees or organizations enjoy similar reimbursement arrangements? If so, which ones?

A. Yes. As examples, the district also acts as the fiscal agent for Beaufort County First Steps and Riverview Charter School.

As for financial arrangements with the Strive organization itself, Foster said the district has never assigned a monetary value to the office space Strive uses at Hilton Head High or other schools where Strive has operated. He said it also wasn't immediately clear if Strive's programs are covered under the school district's liability insurance policy.