SALARIES for school superintendents rose at a rate well above inflation in Westchester last year, according to new state figures. School board officials attribute the increase to the difficulty of finding candidates capable of meeting the high expectations of suburban parents and homeowners.
For 2007-8, the median pay package for the top job in the county’s 39 districts is $288,400, including salary and benefits — an increase of 7.1 percent from 2006-7, according to data the districts reported to the state. Thirteen superintendents will make more than $300,000 in total compensation next school year; seven did so in 2006-7.
Robert J. Roelle, the Ossining superintendent, is the highest paid public school executive in Westchester, with salary and benefits worth more than $345,000 in 2007-8.
Superintendents’ pay has been rising about 6 percent to 7 percent a year for the last three years, mirroring other costs in school districts, which have also been rising more sharply than the inflation rate of 3 percent.
The median pay package for assistant superintendents rose 5.1 percent, to $208,250. And teachers’ salaries rise about 5 percent to 6 percent a year, district officials say.
Westchester’s administrators are the best paid in the state, by a wide margin. The median salary for superintendents is 16 percent higher than on Long Island, and 66 percent higher than the state median of $173,400.
At a time when residents are complaining about high property taxes, and the state is sending millions of new dollars to suburban school districts, Westchester districts now pay about $10.8 million, an increase of 18 percent since 2004-5, for the superintendents who oversee the education of 122,000 students.
School board officials say they see little alternative to the continued increase in salaries, but also say they have little difficulty justifying the cost to voters.
Voters, who can reject school budgets in public elections, have been willing to put up with large increases in property taxes in recent years. “I guess most people believe in the public school system,” said Ms. McBride of Mount Vernon, where voters approved a 6.5 percent increase in the tax levy on May 15 for a budget that contained the big increase in superintendent salary and benefits. “They’re grateful we are trying to keep the taxes as low as we can.”
Census figures released last week show that Westchester and Long Island rank at the top among more than 10,000 school districts across the country in spending per pupil, except for a few in sparsely populated areas that must hire more teachers to reach far-flung students. Among districts with more than 250 students, 13 of the top 24 were on Long Island or in Westchester, with the rest in Alaska and Wyoming.
So..... how much money would you say the Irvington Strategic Plan is worth?
I personally would pay money to have every single item on that plan rolled back, except for number 5, which is athletic fields. (I'll be voting for a compromise fields bond.)
Of course, that's the one element of the Strategic Plan our superintendent has failed to make happen. Everything else has gone sailing through - technology! vendors! portfolio assessments! differentiated instruction! character ed 24/7!
If we had an administrator who was focused like a laser on academic achievement and the liberal arts I would favor a writing program.
Since we don't have an administrator who appears to be even remotely interested in the liberal arts disciplines — and since we do have administrators who make disparaging remarks about disciplinary specialists — we are now being Lucy Calkinsized.
That will cost countless thousands of dollars, too.
Did we talk to real writers in town (amongst whom we number one Pulitzer Prizewinner as well as the former head of Time/Life books) before hiring a Lucy Calkins camp follower to professionally develop our teachers?
Why consult a Pulitzer Prizewinner for free when you can pay good money to hire a consultant?