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Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Does a Superintendent Make?

Interesting reading over at Education Week. It seems that our Superintendent is not the only well-paid superintendent in the country. New Jersey's governor makes less than 75% of New Jersey's local superintendents. New York's governor makes less than the NYC superintendent (by almost half).

What struck me is that both the superintendents of the LA Unified school district AND the superintendent of NYC make less than Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, by a lot (NYC, $250k/LA, $250K). Folks, we are an urban district but we are small and manageable district by comparison to Detroit, Chicago, LA or NYC.

From the article:

In some states, you could certainly argue that being a school superintendent is a more difficult job worthy of more compensation, though I don't think that is the case currently in California and New York, where both governors have found it next to impossible to govern much of anything lately.

Also from the article:

Intuitively, it seems completely out of whack for a district superintendent to make more than the CEO of an entire state. But some of this has to do with the fact that some salaries for governors were set eons ago and don't get tweaked much. No one has to use a compensation package to get the best "hire" for the governor's office; those folks self-select by running for the office. While governors and superintendents are public servants, they operate in entirely different markets.

In the comments section, one reader added a graphic showing how salaries in NYC compare from teacher to principal to chancellor (their superintendent) to charter school overseers. Pretty interesting. I don't think all charter school principals make a lot of money but I would think most of the operators of the firms for the large charter school groups do.

23 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

Despite repeated claims that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's salary is somehow comparable to her peers, it is NOT. See this report on the topic by the Council of Great City Schools. As a member of the Council, Seattle Public Schools should have had a copy of this report and therefore should have known that the claim that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's salary was on a par with her peer group was false.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And, they could have done a search and seen how high her salary is compared to other urban superintendents.

Again, someone who is great is worth the money. Someone who brings in staff from previous employment AND gets a high salary and yet gets poor marks for management from the State Auditor, well, not such a great deal.

Again, what makes her so much better than Klein in NYC and Corines in LA?

zb said...

I have to complain about the graphic. It commits the error of ignoring area in iconic representations (A Tufte no no). Canada (Harlem Children's Zone) makes a bit less then 10X the average salary of a public school teacher in NYC, but the apple for Canada is way bigger than 10X the size of the public school teacher's salary.

It's a visual trick that's misleading, and not worth the "cute" graphics.

I do not consider the superintendent's salary an issue. She's paid at a fairly common level for supervisory professionals in lots of fields.

Joel Klein at NYC clearly accepted a less than his "market rate" salary to take the position because he wanted to work on the problem. He left the Justice Department after being the lead prosecutor for US v Microsoft. He could easily have been hired into a law firm for much more money. He is also married to the General Counsel of Sony Corp, which probably simplifies his willingness to accept the salary that he does for the position.

I simply don't consider the superintendent's salary out of line for what we want her to do. Now, I think it's quite reasonable to spend a lot of energy complaining about whether she does it. But, if she did, I wouldn't see the salary as being an issue at all.

seattle said...

MGJ (and her huge salary) is not the demon here. You can't blame her for accepting the salary that was offered to her. If there was any failure, or blame, it should be directed at the board. They are the ones who picked MGJ. They are the ones who didn't do their homework and offered her an absurd, out of whack, salary.

Patrick said...

The salary strikes me as not really an issue. So, L.A.'s makes less -- but budget problems there make ours look like a walk in the park.

And governors are not comparable at all to superintendents. As elected officials, it looks bad for them to have enormously high salaries. Also, a superintendent pretty much lives on her salary. A governor, once out of office, can generally support herself on the lecture circuit and/or take on consulting or board positions. Governors usually have a house and staff that come with the job too.

Comparing either superintendents or governors to CEOs is just silly.

Charlie Mas said...

For me the issue isn't how much she makes. $20-40,000 one way or the other isn't really a big deal in the context of the District's budget. For me, the issue is the repeated claim that her salary is comparable to her peer group when it isn't. For me, the issue is the deception around her salary.

After that comes the Board's failure to verify the false statement that the superintendent's salary is typical.

After that comes her poor performance. Actually, her poor performance doesn't really tie to her salary because I'm not interested in poor performance at any price.

Lots of studies show that money isn't much of an incentive for people who do cognitive work. I find it hard to believe that she wouldn't work just as hard for $50,000 less.

MathTeacher42 said...

I think people should ALWAYS look at money, and I think they should look at it in the context of a big picture, such as Money Income of People 2007, table 689, from the Statistical Abstract of The United States, 2007.

WHAT is someone doing which requires them getting paid more than 50 million or 200 million other people working?

http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2010/tables/10s0689.pdf

There were appx. 238,000,000 Americans over age 15 or 16 with what they defined at Money Income. People making over 200k were appx. 2,238,000/238,000,000

I'm sure those making over 200k could ALL justify their salaries! Being at the top means you get to hire people to tell you how great you are!

For the few hundred million of us below $100,000 a year, we're paid by several variables, one of the key variables being -

what can they replace you for?

Isn't it interesting how that variable is NOT emphasized when we get to higher pay grades? The conversation is always a comparison - well so & so makes 250k, so I should make 275k! - kind of discussion.

For that 200,000,000 +++ of us making under $100,000 a year, know what your boss says when you come in and say that so and so down the street makes more money for the same job? 70% or 90% of the time the boss says - BYE!!

Cuz I can replace YOU, and I will.

(sometimes you are actually worth your money ... sometimes)

I guess I should stop being so resentful - kind of $ocial cla$$ i$ it?

Maybe I should just keep watching that Elvis in Vegas youtube where Elvis is singing "How Great Thou Art"!

BM.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ditto ZB. I called the Times out on a graphic like this once; I just didn't notice on this one.

dan dempsey said...

Here is the filing actually submitted to the Superior Court in the appeal of the contract extension on July 22.

More at Seattle2010recall

Anonymous said...

I'm a newcomer to the discussion. How much does MGJ make? Yes, if I were her, I'd accept it also. Who sets the salary? Who do we complain to when the next contract negotiations come around for the next Sup? How much do the board members make? Thanks for filling in the blanks for me.

Sahila said...

Seattle Times coverage of contract extension appeal and recall petition filing:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2012426458_recall23m.html

Melissa Westbrook said...

So Anonymous, here's the info:

- The Super makes about $355k including benefits. Of course, she should take whatever they give her. It's the Board's duty to know what the going rate is. Only one person of the current Board was on the Board at the time she was selected and that is Michael DeBell.

-the Board is supposedly her boss (one of their few legal duties is to oversee her work). They select the Superintendent and make the salary offering (probably based on advice from both legal counsel as well as headhunters).

-the Board job has only a small stipend of about $4800 per year (and I think they get reimbursed some for gas/other expenses). It is largely a thankless volunteer job.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kprugman said...

That sort of salary is unimaginably huge. That has to be the highest paid superintendent in the entire universe - to my knowledge she was never a teacher, so how could she possibly know about curriculum other than what it costs.

Anonymous said...

Yes, she was a teacher. And, she was a special ed teacher for a while. No, not the biggest in the universe.

dan dempsey said...

What does a charter school top administrator make?

HERE

Michael said...

A Florida website picked up the appeal and recall filing stories. It links to the Seattle Times story.

Michael said...

http://sec.floridatoday.com/article/06JqehVfuf3WW?q=Seattle

Chris S. said...

You know, I saw her resume once, and I seem to recall she was a teacher very briefly, and in the 1980s. And, well, she's can't be any older than me, and I was very, very young in the 80s. I'm a little skeptical about her teaching creds.

dan dempsey said...

MGJ would fit better in Bell, CA with her salary.

Check the salary of three in Bell, CA here.

Sahila said...

Dan... loved the last two posts you put up...did you notice the connection between charter schools and this "charter" town?

And did you notice how these administrators ended up with such lucrative packages - law changes hidden in obscure ballots passed by a veritable handful of citizens...

We are strangers in a strange, strange land....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land

dan dempsey said...

Speaking of making good money PLUS.

I did an analysis of two Board members at the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, which is the parent of the New Technology Network.

When looking at the number of hours worked and then expanding the rate to 40 hrs per week for a year. Those Directors were making $800,000 per year.

Obama/Duncan's Race to the Bank is sponsored by folks like this.

Turn around supposedly failing schools with NTN. They love it. Ka Ching ... Ka Ching

Problem is when checking the data NTN has turned around nothing but Sacramento spends $1400 more per student on the New Tech Sacramento school than the Sacramento schools average per student. Seattle is on track to do the same "turnaround" in financially troubled times. Well if you are a KWF director the times are not financially troubling for you.

Sahila said...

Did you know that one of the perks of being a Broad Academy grad is that the Broad finds you your next job and negotiates your pay package for and with you?

If our exceedingly well-paid MGJ gets the boot here, Broad will make sure she's placed somewhere else...