PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Schools are being closed, teachers are being laid off and programs are being cut as more school districts struggle with budget shortfalls.
However, a KDKA investigation found that the pay and compensation for school superintendents in the region is quickly on the rise.
Are the school districts getting their money’s worth? Is it time for the school chiefs to tighten their belts?
A recent Franklin Regional School Board meeting was packed with parents lobbying to keep full-day kindergarten in the face of budget cutbacks.
“Full-day kindergarten is incredibly important academically, socially as well as emotionally for children,” Bobbi Watt Geer said.
Superintendent Dr. Emery D’Arcangelo, who just received a 6 percent raise and a hefty contribution to his retirement fund, said that is something that doesn’t sit well with some.
Despite tough times, superintendent pay is on the rise. KDKA-TV’s Andy Sheehan reviewed 30 Allegheny County school districts and found the average superintendent salary jumped from $131,685 in 2009 to $141,744, in 2010. That is an increase of more than 7 percent and is $11,000 more than the state average.
Those figures do not include things like retirement annuities, life insurance contributions, travel expenses and membership in professional organizations which are typical in most contracts.
At $183,000, D’Arcangelo is one of the highest paid superintendents in the region, but is not the highest.
Newly-hired superintendent at North Allegheny, Dr. Raymond Gualtieri, is making $190,000. That is $5,000 more than his predecessor.
Dr. Linda Lane of Pittsburgh Public Schools makes the most of all at $200,000.
However, Dr. Lane just turned down a board-approved $15,000 raise because of her plans to close schools and lay off teachers.
“I told them I was asking people to do some really hard things and I couldn’t be in a place where I could ask them to do things I wasn’t willing to do myself,” Dr. Lane said.
In terms of givebacks, she is the exception rather than the rule.
At Franklin Regional, D’Arcangelo’s pay bump included a board-approved merit increase. This came after he negotiated $6,000 in salary givebacks from each of the district’s teachers.
D’Arcangelo has agreed to contribute a higher percentage of his pay towards his healthcare costs, but he wasn’t interested in talking about those details with Sheehan.
Most school boards believe their superintendents are worth every penny they are paid, but there’s no doubt these are very tough times in education.
Sometimes, leadership involves shared sacrifice.