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Pay above average before raise, data suggest

While board members did not address the issue of comparable salaries Monday, President Chris Sprowls earlier said it was a consideration at the June 27 board meeting in which Superintendent Lee Leiker’s increase was set.

“I wanted to know if we’re being competitive with our administrators,” Sprowls said. Leiker received an $8,500 raise. Building principals each received equal raises of $2,530.

“We wanted to try to get them close,” Sprowls said. “We looked across the area, and it’s pretty similar; it got them to where they should be. I don’t think anybody expects us to be the highest paying district in the area, but nobody expects us to be the lowest.”

The Record obtained superintendent salary and benefit data for 2011-12 from the Kansas Department of Education, as well as information on total district enrollments, number of certified staff per district, and assessed valuation.

Even before his pay raise, Leiker received salary and benefits 1.3 percent above the average of those paid to superintendents in similarly sized districts

Among the 15 next largest and 15 next smallest Kansas school districts in terms of student enrollment, the average superintendent salary and benefits totaled $2,033 less than what Leiker was paid before his $8,500 raise.

The disparity is even greater when ranking districts by the number of certified educators they employ.

Among the 15 next largest and 15 next smallest Kansas school districts in terms of size of educational staff, the average superintendent salary and benefits totaled $4,753 less than what Leiker was paid before his raise.

The gap gets wider still when ranking districts by total assessed valuation, which is representative of a district’s ability to pay.

Among the 15 next largest and 15 next smallest Kansas school districts in terms of total assessed valuation, the average superintendent salary and benefits totaled $18,630 less than what Leiker was paid before his raise.

In response to a request made by the Record under the Kansas Open Records Act, the district released the KASB database Tuesday. It also reflects 2011-12 contracts.

Among the 15 next largest and 15 next smallest Kansas school districts in terms of student enrollment, the average superintendent salary and benefits totaled $1,685 less than what Leiker was paid before his raise.

The trend is reversed when only the 11 superintendents with extra duties in this group are compared. Extra duty assignments are noted in the KASB report, but are not including in the KDOE statistics.

Before receiving his raise, Leiker was paid $3,829 less than the $105,601 average for superintendents in the sample who have additional duties.

Leiker and two other superintendents in this group are listed as directors of transportation. The Sterling superintendent was paid $3,296 less than Leiker, while the McClouth superintendent earned $6,249 more.

KDOE School Finance Coordinator Sara Barnes said districts have guidelines to follow when submitting salary and benefit data to help insure the figures are comparable.

Barnes said the data compiled by KDOE does not reflect factors that she said would be useful in more refined comparisons of superintendent salaries.

“There are a lot of things that could come into play when trying to compare districts,” Barnes said. “Cost-per pupil, if they’re a shared superintendent between districts, or if they are a retired superintendent. Their years of experience, college hours, if they have a master’s or a doctorate can have an impact.”

Last modified July 12, 2012

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