Fair Is Not Fair Everywhere (An Elaboration)
SUPERINTENDENT BOND UPDATE: According to Ronald Beutell, of the St. Louis Public Schools’ treasury office, “To my knowledge, no superintendent has ever not faithfully performed the duties of his office by law and forfeited the bond.”
Today, I’ll talk about superintendent salary increases. I’m not going to make generalizations. Instead, I’ve picked seven school districts that illustrate different ways superintendents are given pay boosts. Some increases depend on a superintendent’s annual evaluation, while others lock in automatic salary increases of more than $5,000 per year.
Cape Girardeau, Hickory, Fayette, Fort Zumwalt, Fox, Hickory, and Springfield school districts all do it differently.
Generally, superintendent contracts last for three years. When a contract expires and the school board is pleased with the superintendent’s work, the contract is renewed. Many times, school boards annually add an addendum to the contract, reflecting a pay increase or a change in benefits.
Fox School District, like many others in Missouri, lists the superintendent’s exact annual salary for each year, regardless of how the school board rates the superintendent’s performance. Next school year, the superintendent’s salary rises by $6,228 (about a 3-percent increase). For the 2009–2010 school year, the increase is $8,229 (about a 4-percent increase).
Cape Girardeau worded its superintendent contract so that the school board has some say in how much more salary the superintendent receives each year. There, the superintendent’s salary for each new school year is between 102 and 105 percent of his salary the year before. The exact amount of this increase is “at the sole discretion of the Board based upon the annual evaluation of the Superintendent …”
Springfield, home of one of Missouri’s highest-paid superintendents, determines the salary increase simply: The superintendent receives the same percentage salary increase that is awarded to teachers.
Parkway does it methodically. For example, say Parkway administrators are given a 5-percent pay boost for the 2008–2009 academic year. The superintendent automatically receives half of the increase (2.5 percent). The other half of the salary increase takes some algebra skills, so bear with me. Board members rate various aspects of the superintendent’s performance that year: “Each school board member shall have the opportunity to rate the Superintendent’s performance in each of the five performance areas. For each performance area, the scores of board members shall be averaged.”
Then, those five overall averages are averaged (again), and that percentage is used as the overall performance rating. So, say the board rated the superintendent’s performance at 75 percent. That percentage is multiplied by the average total pay increase awarded to Parkway’s adminstrators that year (5 percent). In this example, 75 percent of 5 percent is 3.75 percent, which is added to the automatic 2.5 percent. Total increase: 6.25 percent.
It’s a little complicated, but you can’t say the school board doesn’t have some input. How much? Well, if the Parkway School Board rated its superintendent’s performance at an absolute zero, he’d lose out on about $10,000 — the amount that the school board would give him for a perfect rating.
There are no salary increases written in to Hickory County School District’s superintendent contract — a new contract or contract amendment would have to be written to pay him more. Interestingly, the school board offered either to provide a car or to reimburse the superintendent for using his car on school business, but he refused the benefit.
Fayette, like Springfield, ties the superintendent’s salary increases to whatever percentage is awarded to teachers. On top of that, the school board can choose to add more, if his performance warrants it. However, for the 2007–2008 school year, the superintendent recommended and accepted no increase in his pay, citing the financial condition of the school district.
Fayette has company. At Fort Zumwalt School District, where the superintendent’s salary increases are determined by the percentage increase awarded to teachers, the superintendent has asked for and taken a lower percentage for three years running. Specifically, he takes about one percentage point less than the percentage by which teacher salaries increase.
So far, these examples offer a pretty good representation of how school districts reward superintendents. However, the last three listed — where superintendents asked for less than their districts attempted to give them — are the exception rather than the norm.
Feel free to leave a comment here — or, if you have any questions about how other school districts determine superintendent salary increases, email me.
[NOTE: A few of the figures used in this entry have changed since it was originally posted, because a misinterpretation of the Parkway contract’s language has been corrected.]