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Beleaguered Cold Harbor Supervisor, Elton Wade Sr., drew media scrutiny following news that he earned more than double the normal salary allotted for a school crossing guard.
However, his days in the spotlight might be over soon.
At the June 12 Board of Supervisors meeting, Wade announced his retirement from the traffic guard position he’s held since 1988.
“I love this county. I love this job,” Wade said. “I felt it was time to leave.”
Wade has served the school system for 52 years. He started out driving school busses until he was asked to be a traffic guard. Wade’s first position was at Stonewall Middle School. He later acquired another assignment at Pole Green Elementary School when it opened in 2001.
Wade said he made about $12,000 at Stonewall and $7,000 traffic guarding a Pole Green. He then addressed the issues the media has raised in the recent weeks regarding his pay.
“I won’t maneuver the school board to pay me two salaries,” Wade said.
But Wade recognized the commotion the pay debate caused.
“I just want people to know it could’ve been straightened out very easily,” he said.
Wade was paid salary because he was one of the first traffic guards to have two school assignments whereas now traffic guards are paid hourly.
“It hurts when you’re accused of cheating the school,” Wade told the Herald-Progress.
Wade said he’s upset that no one in the media or the public noticed that his pay was for both traffic guard assignments and not just one.
Although Wade is 80 years old, he said his health is not the issue. “I can work despite my age. I could probably outwork some,” Wade said.
Figures received from Central Office prior to Wade’s announcement he would be stepping down from his post with the school system confirmed what most suspected: Wade was the school system’s highest paid traffic guard.
Wade was paid $30,030 annually for his service at Stonewall Jackson Middle and Pole Green Elementary schools, while the average pay for the position is half that amount.
The next highest pay to Wade’s is the $16,764 salary that goes to a woman with 27 years of service to the school system. Another guard with 32 years of service makes less than that.
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, which asked for traffic guard salary information, the Herald-Progress received a list of seven individuals, including Wade.
Salaries ranged from a low of $11,218 to Wade’s $30,030 pay. The average salary for the position was $15,471.
While traffic guards are reportedly paid by the hour, according to a statement recently released by School Superintendent Jamelle Wilson, the data obtained by the H-P listed salaries on an annual basis.
In a statement to the H-P, Wilson said Wade began work as a traffic guard in 1988 and received a second assignment in 2001 when Pole Green Elementary opened. At that time he was earning a combined $20,309 for his dual assignments. Wilson said that Wade was the first guard to take on two assignments, and that many since him have done the same. Figures from the school system could not confirm how many current crossing guards work more than one role.
According to Wilson, school policy in 2001 dictated that Wade be paid based on assignment, not on an hourly basis. Since 2001, policy has switched from compensating guards by assignment to paying them hourly. However, according to Wilson, the school division never adjusted Wade’s salary to match current practice.
Wade’s pay had increased since then by the same percentages as other employees across the school division who meet job expectations, Wilson said.