Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

June 17, 2011

School superintendent pay to come under scrutiny

By Maureen Hayden

INDIANAPOLIS —  

 Indiana lawmakers who changed the way the state’s public school teachers are paid are now turning their attention to how top school administrators are compensated.

The pay and benefit packages of the state’s 291 school superintendents will come under scrutiny this summer by a legislative study committee also charged with looking at a plan to cap superintendents’ salaries and limit their perks.

In doing so, Indiana joins a growing number of states, including Illinois, New Jersey, and New York, taking a closer look at how local school boards use taxpayer dollars to compensate school superintendents. Those states are exploring or employing several options, from capping salaries at or below what the governor makes to linking salaries to district size.

Whether local school boards in Indiana — under pressure to cut costs due to declining state revenues — will welcome the state’s intervention remains to be seen.

“Some may see it as a blessing and some will see it as a curse,” said state Rep. Robert Behning, the influential Republican chairman of the House Education Committee. “Nobody likes to have their ability to determine their destiny taken over by another body.”

Behning and other state legislators who pushed for the compensation review note that Indiana spent more than $32.9 million on superintendent salaries last school year. That doesn’t include benefits and other perks like housing and car allowances.

Those legislators are unhappy about a $1 million retirement package that a township school board in Indianapolis negotiated with its superintendent before he retired last December.

But they also contend that compensation packages offered to superintendents by local school boards across the state — including salaries ranging from $29,000 to $272,000 — are arbitrary and have little correlation to the size of the school districts or the success of their students.

“It’s out of control,” said State Sen. Jim Banks, a freshman Republican from Columbia City who pushed for the compensation review during the legislative session that ended in April.

Banks backed a House bill that would have established a pay-for-performance plan for school administrators that would have mirrored, in part, the merit pay plan that legislators passed for teachers.

The bill failed in the Senate. But the issue of superintendents’ pay was revived in early June by legislative leaders who assigned the topic to the bipartisan Interim Study Committee on Education Issues.

That committee, scheduled to meet this summer, was also instructed to look into establishing a statewide salary structure for superintendents based on the number of students enrolled in their school districts.

John Ellis, executive director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, opposes the idea of linking pay to district enrollment.

“It’s such a ridiculous concept,” Ellis said. “Indiana (superintendent) salaries are not out of line.”

He argues that most Indiana school superintendents are overworked and underpaid, noting that a study conducted two years ago showed that Indiana’s superintendent salaries were among the lowest in the nation.

But he acknowledges that the salaries are uneven. Superintendent salary figures kept by the Indiana Department of Education show pay ranges widely, with little correlation to district size, complexity of the student body, or a community’s cost of living.

Among the examples cited by compensation review supporters: A school board in Clark County decided two years ago to pay its superintendent a salary of $225,000 to run a district with 10,700 students. In a neighboring school district in Floyd County, the superintendent is paid $160,900 to run a district with 11,600 students. The state’s smallest school district, with 169 students, paid its superintendent $98,820 last year. Noblesville, with more than 9,000 students, paid its superintendent a $75,862 salary last year.

Ellis said the difference is due to the market for good superintendents who can command higher salaries, and local school boards’ desire to hang on to those superintendents.

Keeping their superintendent is why the board of the Wayne Township Schools in Indianapolis said they were willing to renegotiate their superintendent’s contract back in 2007, giving him a retirement package worth more than $1 million.

The revelation of the contract’s details late last year sparked outrage among local residents and lawmakers.

Ellis said the Wayne Township situation was an isolated incident. Banks and Behning aren’t so sure.

“There needs to be more transparency in what’s in these contracts,” Behning said, noting that school boards are not required to report to the state DOE the other perks, beyond salaries, offered to superintendents.

Both sides agree that control is at the heart of the debate.

Ellis objects to the legislature’s intrusion into what he sees as an issue of local control by school boards, and their historic right to set compensation levels for their top administrators.

“These are decisions best made at the local level,” Ellis said.

Banks and Behning argue that more guidance is needed from state lawmakers who intentionally shifted education funding away from local property taxes three years ago, when the legislature passed property tax caps. In doing so, the legislature also opted to fund local school districts’ operating expenses — including superintendent salaries — out of the state’s general fund.

That shift, said Banks, means “state legislators have a responsibility to exert more control over state dollars.”

Indiana isn’t the only state looking at how local school boards use taxpayer dollars to compensate school superintendents.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has proposed the formation of a commission to examine reducing the amount of state dollars spent on superintendent salaries by reducing the number of school districts through consolidation. Quinn’s staff said reducing the number of school districts from 869 to 350 would save the state $100 million on district superintendent salaries.

In New Jersey, two successive governors tried to contain the growth of pay and benefits of the state’s 600-plus school superintendents — half of whom earn salaries greater than Gov. Chris Christie’s annual pay of $175,000. Christie, a Republican, has put in place salary caps on schools administrators based on district enrollment.

In New York, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed putting a cap on school superintendent salaries outside New York City, ranging from $125,000 to $179,000, depending on the size of the school district. The superintendent of the New York City’s schools, with one million students, earns $250,000.

— Maureen Hayden is statehouse bureau chief for CNHI Indiana newspapers. She may be reached by e-mailing to maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

 

By the numbers

(These figures represent base salaries only and do not include bonuses, perks, or other means of compensation.)

Avon Community School Corporation

Base salary: $160,186, Enrollment: 8498

Brownsburg Community School Corporation

Base salary: $150,000, Enrollment: 7548

Danville Community School Corporation

Base salary: $118,000, Enrollment: 2598

Mill Creek Community School Corporation

Base salary: $105,000, Enrollment: 1631

North West Hendricks School Corporation

Base salary: $105,000, Enrollment: 1904

Plainfield Community School Corporation

Base salary: $147,288, Enrollment: 4808

* Information provided by the Indiana Department of Education

 

CORP
NAME SALARY SUPP_SALARY ENROLLMENT
0015 Adams Central Community Schools $94,320 $15,012 1193
0025 North Adams Community Schools $95,500 $0 1953
0035 South Adams Schools $95,013 $0 1390
0125 M S D Southwest Allen County $150,000 $37,000 7071
0225 Northwest Allen County Schools $150,000 $0 6341
0235 Fort Wayne Community Schools $194,502 $0 31401
0255 East Allen County Schools $154,300 $0 10094
0365 Bartholomew Con School Corp $142,217 $0 11309
0370 Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp $100,000 $0 954
0395 Benton Community School Corp $38,000 $0 1863
0515 Blackford County Schools $110,000 $0 1943
0615 Western Boone Co Com Sch Dist $108,758 $0 1791
0630 Zionsville Community Schools $133,076 $0 5644
0665 Lebanon Community School Corp $127,500 $299 3552
0670 Brown County School Corporation $100,000 $0 2102
0750 Carroll Consolidated Sch Corp $112,389 $0 1099
0755 Delphi Community School Corp $108,166 $0 1664
0775 Pioneer Regional School Corp $101,622 $600 981
0815 Southeastern School Corp $113,145 $0 1551
0875 Logansport Community Sch Corp $92,920 $0 4243
0940 West Clark Community Sch Corp $107,363   4294
1000 Clarksville Com School Corp $94,000 $0 1400
1010 Greater Clark County Schools $225,000 $0 10740
1125 Clay Community Schools $139,840 $0 4458
1150 Clinton Central School Corp $102,000 $3,960 1062
1160 Clinton Prairie School Corp $103,130 $0 979
1170 Community Schools of Frankfort $115,375 $375 3233
1180 Rossville Con School District $98,030 $0 1039
1300 Crawford Co Com School Corp $96,240 $0 1632
1315 Barr-Reeve Com Schools Inc $99,596 $0 746
1375 North Daviess Com Schools $100,960 $0 1131
1405 Washington Com Schools $105,000 $0 2529
1560 Sunman-Dearborn Com Sch Corp $115,260 $0 4192
1600 South Dearborn Com School Corp $105,561 $0 2966
1620 Lawrenceburg Com School Corp $97,000 $0 1874
1655 Decatur County Com Schools $104,000 $0 2153
1730 Greensburg Community Schools $125,478 $0 2325
1805 DeKalb Co Eastern Com Sch Dist $99,867 $0 1435
1820 Garrett-Keyser-Butler Com $99,759 $0 1788
1835 DeKalb Co Ctl United Sch Dist $118,000 $0 3976
1875 Delaware Community School Corp $108,150 $0 2666
1885 Wes-Del Community Schools $99,050 $0 830
1895 Liberty-Perry Com School Corp $97,850 $1,200 1114
1900 Cowan Community School Corp $92,000 $0 761
1910 Yorktown Community Schools $106,050 $0 2292
1940 Daleville Community Schools $94,925 $0 815
1970 Muncie Community Schools $168,343 $0 7005
2040 Northeast Dubois Co Sch Corp $104,000 $0 987
2100 Southeast Dubois Co Sch Corp $108,000 $0 1382
2110 Southwest Dubois Co Sch Corp $106,015 $0 1718
2120 Greater Jasper Con Schs $102,307 $0 3219
2155 Fairfield Community Schools $103,402 $0 2081
2260 Baugo Community Schools $104,805 $0 1962
2270 Concord Community Schools $119,000 $9,280 4863
2275 Middlebury Community Schools $113,414 $0 4344
2285 Wa-Nee Community Schools $111,958 $0 3129
2305 Elkhart Community Schools $176,105 $0 13135
2315 Goshen Community Schools $117,476 $0 6402
2395 Fayette County School Corp $117,555 $0 4122
2400 New Albany-Floyd Co Con Sch $160,900 $0 11656
2435 Attica Consolidated Sch Corp $91,208 $0 941
2440 Covington Community Sch Corp $95,000 $0 990
2455 Southeast Fountain School Corp $94,082 $0 1301
2475 Franklin County Com Sch Corp $98,000 $0 2952
2645 Rochester Community Sch Corp $112,249 $0 1867
2650 Caston School Corporation $93,730 $0 796
2725 East Gibson School Corporation $126,169 $0 1006
2735 North Gibson School Corp $119,304 $0 2131
2765 South Gibson School Corp $94,190 $0 2011
2815 Eastbrook Community Sch Corp $98,083 $0 1729
2825 Madison-Grant United Sch Corp $105,000 $0 1470
2855 Mississinewa Community School Corp $105,062 $1,000 2487
2865 Marion Community Schools $141,750 $0 4113
2920 Bloomfield School District $96,500 $0 1081
2940 Eastern Greene Schools $97,000 $20,733 1329
2950 Linton-Stockton School Corp $97,468 $0 1387
2960 M S D Shakamak Schools $87,500 $0 856
2980 White River Valley Sch Dist $97,014 $0 835
3005 Hamilton Southeastern Schools $160,000 $0 18687
3025 Hamilton Heights School Corp $137,864 $0 2291
3030 Westfield-Washington Schools $153,103 $0 6275
3055 Sheridan Community Schools $108,171 $0 1126
3060 Carmel Clay Schools $158,000 $0 15550
3070 Noblesville Schools $75,862   9181
3115 Southern Hancock Co Com Sch Corp $147,787 $21,696 3328
3125 Greenfield-Central Com Schools $122,241 $0 4757
3135 Mt Vernon Community Sch Corp $112,595 $0 3645
3145 Eastern Hancock Co Com Sch Corp $93,500 $0 1127
3160 Lanesville Community School Corp $104,000 $0 663
3180 North Harrison Com School Corp $105,000 $0 2251
3190 South Harrison Com Schools $114,475 $0 3206
3295 North West Hendricks Schools $105,000 $0 1904
3305 Brownsburg Community Sch Corp $150,000 $0 7548
3315 Avon Community School Corp $160,186 $0 8498
3325 Danville Community School Corp $118,000 $0 2598
3330 Plainfield Community Sch Corp $147,288 $40,568 4808
3335 Mill Creek Community Sch Corp $105,000 $0 1631
3405 Blue River Valley Schools $97,644 $0 720
3415 South Henry School Corp $91,500 $0 819
3435 Shenandoah School Corporation $101,290 $0 1388
3445 New Castle Community Sch Corp $115,049 $0 3814
3455 C A Beard Memorial School Corp $112,055 $0 1312
3460 Taylor Community School Corp $103,000 $0 1427
3470 Northwestern School Corp $103,171 $0 1638
3480 Eastern Howard School Corp $103,020 $33,141 1344
3490 Western School Corp $110,000 $0 2566
3500 Kokomo-Center Twp Con Sch Corp $135,000 $0 6489
3625 Huntington Co Com Sch Corp $101,457 $17,000 6014
3640 Medora Community School Corp $105,000 $0 276
3675 Seymour Community Schools $114,923 $0 4279
3695 Brownstown Cnt Com Sch Corp $114,373 $0 1742
3710 Crothersville Community Schools $123,176 $0 551
3785 Kankakee Valley School Corp $101,661 $0 3546
3815 Rensselaer Central School Corp $94,681 $7,887 1792
3945 Jay School Corp $118,861 $0 3643
3995 Madison Consolidated Schools $108,494 $0 3306
4000 Southwestern-Jefferson Co Con $98,733 $0 1324
4015 Jennings County Schools $111,701 $1,200 5005
4145 Clark-Pleasant Com School Corp $163,012 $0 5880
4205 Center Grove Com Sch Corp $145,000 $0 7658
4215 Edinburgh Community Sch Corp $95,685 $13,000 900
4225 Franklin Community School Corp $125,000 $0 5070
4245 Greenwood Community Sch Corp $164,034 $0 3799
4255 Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson United $50,500 $0 1908
4315 North Knox School Corp $112,750 $0 1336
4325 South Knox School Corp $92,903 $1,916 1220
4335 Vincennes Community Sch Corp $99,752 $0 2684
4345 Wawasee Community School Corp $113,943 $15,790 3251
4415 Warsaw Community Schools $128,000 $0 6889
4445 Tippecanoe Valley School Corp $105,989 $0 2087
4455 Whitko Community School Corp $99,475 $7,020 1889
4515 Prairie Heights Com Sch Corp $100,000 $0 1449
4525 Westview School Corporation $93,673 $0 2330
4535 Lakeland School Corporation $100,465 $0 2197
4580 Hanover Community School Corp $100,000   2032
4590 River Forest Community Sch Corp $141,358 $0 1556
4600 Merrillville Community School $131,721 $17,500 7052
4615 Lake Central School Corp $142,000 $9,000 10216
4645 Tri-Creek School Corporation $124,780 $0 3664
4650 Lake Ridge Schools $112,436 $0 2029
4660 Crown Point Community Sch Corp $146,803 $0 7636
4670 School City of East Chicago $143,040 $0 5683
4680 Lake Station Community Schools $107,726 $0 1482
4690 Gary Community School Corp $130,000 $8,400 11161
4700 Griffith Public Schools $118,459 $0 2681
4710 School City of Hammond $136,184 $19,500 14332
4720 School Town of Highland $128,750 $6,000 3398
4730 School City of Hobart $138,488 $0 3977
4740 School Town of Munster $142,456 $0 4153
4760 Whiting School City $119,313 $0 1091
4770 Cass Township Schools $29,400 $0 210
4805 New Prairie United School Corp $109,500 $14,100 2785
4860 M S D of New Durham Township $110,000 $0 909
4900 Dewey Prairie Cons School Corp $29,400 $0 168
4925 Michigan City Area Schools $145,000 $0 6722
4940 South Central Com School Corp $95,790 $0 898
4945 LaPorte Community School Corp $133,334 $0 6348
5075 North Lawrence Com Schools $104,050 $1,503 5374
5085 Mitchell Community Schools $87,955 $0 1981
5245 Frankton-Lapel Community Schs $109,000 $0 2947
5255 South Madison Com Sch Corp $111,485 $0 4392
5265 Alexandria Com School Corp $100,000 $0 1603
5275 Anderson Community School Corp $131,000 $12,000 8308
5280 Elwood Community School Corp $103,000 $0 1670
5300 M S D Decatur Township $189,287 $0 6435
5310 Franklin Township Com Sch Corp $150,000 $0 8952
5330 M S D Lawrence Township $212,840 $0 15456
5340 M S D Perry Township $202,903 $0 14423
5350 M S D Pike Township $184,500 $0 11074
5360 M S D Warren Township $181,728 $0 11741
5370 M S D Washington Township $198,230 $0 11155
5375 M S D Wayne Township $195,000 $0 16003
5380 Beech Grove City Schools $167,000 $0 2628
5385 Indianapolis Public Schools $272,940 $0 33079
5400 School Town of Speedway $163,200   1528
5455 Culver Community Schools Corp $108,059 $0 1075
5470 Argos Community Schools $90,000 $0 675
5480 Bremen Public Schools $99,899 $0 1470
5485 Plymouth Community School Corp $122,960 $3,689 3537
5495 Triton School Corporation $95,000 $0 1026
5520 Shoals Community School Corp $104,050 $0 646
5525 Loogoottee Community Sch Corp $105,822   998
5615 Maconaquah School Corp $102,000 $4,200 2314
5620 North Miami Community Schools $88,000 $0 1080
5625 Oak Hill United School Corp $100,900 $0 1565
5635 Peru Community Schools $85,500 $0 2293
5705 Richland-Bean Blossom C S C $120,600 $0 2803
5740 Monroe County Com Sch Corp $171,000 $0 10716
5835 North Montgomery Com Sch Corp $105,600 $37,550 2065
5845 South Montgomery Com Sch Corp $94,732   1866
5855 Crawfordsville Com Schools $106,442 $0 2309
5900 Monroe-Gregg School District $110,000 $0 1554
5910 Eminence Community School Corp $54,000 $0 525
5925 M S D Martinsville Schools $123,330 $0 5391
5930 Mooresville Con School Corp $109,000 $0 4523
5945 North Newton School Corp $100,000 $0 1461
5995 South Newton School Corp $96,863 $0 906
6055 Central Noble Com School Corp $89,739 $0 1324
6060 East Noble School Corp $123,580 $0 3868
6065 West Noble School Corporation $130,000 $3,927 2571
6080 Rising Sun-Ohio Co Com $91,956 $0 878
6145 Orleans Community Schools $102,408 $0 837
6155 Paoli Community School Corp $132,802   1581
6160 Springs Valley Com School Corp $101,473 $0 984
6195 Spencer-Owen Community Schools $100,008 $0 2848
6260 Southwest Parke Com Sch Corp $99,868 $0 933
6300 Rockville Community School Corp $95,000 $0 826
6310 Turkey Run Community Sch Corp $81,600 $12,000 554
6325 Perry Central Com Schools $93,992   1141
6340 Cannelton City Schools $94,860 $0 269
6350 Tell City-Troy Twp School Corp $101,796   1541
6445 Pike County School Corp $114,861 $0 1991
6460 M S D Boone Township $97,869 $0 1114
6470 Duneland School Corporation $128,906   5934
6510 East Porter County School Corp $110,940 $0 2390
6520 Porter Township School Corp $102,760 $0 1545
6530 Union Township School Corp $97,129 $0 1659
6550 Portage Township Schools $140,016 $0 8309
6560 Valparaiso Community Schools $168,000 $0 6385
6590 M S D Mount Vernon $97,000 $0 2308
6600 M S D North Posey Co Schools $110,000 $0 1344
6610 New Harmony Town & Twp Con Sch $98,820 $0 169
6620 Eastern Pulaski Com Sch Corp $111,988 $0 1241
6630 West Central School Corp $107,000 $0 891
6705 South Putnam Community Schools $99,004 $0 1242
6715 North Putnam Community Schools $109,000 $0 1752
6750 Cloverdale Community Schools $109,295 $0 1330
6755 Greencastle Community Sch Corp $111,140 $13,568 2029
6795 Union School Corporation $55,520 $0 403
6805 Randolph Southern School Corp $92,097 $0 562
6820 Monroe Central School corp $95,000   1032
6825 Randolph Central School Corp $102,000 $0 1657
6835 Randolph Eastern School Corp $87,000 $7,000 936
6865 South Ripley Com Sch Corp $92,000 $0 1238
6895 Batesville Community Sch Corp $120,000 $0 2085
6900 Jac-Cen-Del Community Sch Corp $96,857 $0 893
6910 Milan Community Schools $51,000 $0 1235
6995 Rush County Schools $112,621 $0 2593
7150 John Glenn School Corporation $97,887 $1,000 1872
7175 Penn-Harris-Madison Sch Corp $167,280 $0 10473
7200 School City of Mishawaka $120,000 $0 5257
7205 South Bend Community Sch Corp $145,000 $0 20066
7215 Union-North United School Corp $98,750 $0 1238
7230 Scott County School District 1 $129,252 $0 1333
7255 Scott County School District 2 $100,000 $21,054 2809
7285 Shelby Eastern Schools $94,575   1435
7350 Northwestern Con School Corp $110,000 $5,631 1535
7360 Southwestern Con Sch Shelby Co $100,034 $0 665
7365 Shelbyville Central Schools $124,089 $0 3917
7385 North Spencer County Sch Corp $94,000 $0 2004
7445 South Spencer County Sch Corp $95,889 $0 1520
7495 Oregon-Davis School Corp $99,184 $3,963 634
7515 North Judson-San Pierre Sch Corp $95,000 $0 1340
7525 Knox Community School Corp $100,462 $0 2017
7605 Fremont Community Schools $94,845 $0 1069
7610 Hamilton Community Schools $95,000 $0 464
7615 M S D Steuben County $133,000 $0 3114
7645 Northeast School Corp $96,027 $0 1451
7715 Southwest School Corporation $90,000   1719
7775 Switzerland County School Corp $104,948 $0 1437
7855 Lafayette School Corporation $145,014 $9,055 7075
7865 Tippecanoe School Corp $135,000 $0 11787
7875 West Lafayette Com School Corp $124,000 $0 2158
7935 Tri-Central Community Schools $104,026 $1,600 923
7945 Tipton Community School Corp $102,500 $0 1783
7950 Union Co/Clg Corner Joint Sch dist $102,492   1588
7995 Evansville Vanderburgh Sch Corp $166,872 $31,400 23440
8010 North Vermillion Com Sch Corp $89,425 $0 748
8020 South Vermillion Com Sch Corp $100,743 $0 1989
8030 Vigo Community School corp $144,338   15891
8045 Manchester Community Schools $104,942 $0 1498
8050 M S D Wabash County Schools $101,000 $0 2397
8060 Wabash City Schools $99,194 $0 1454
8115 M S D Warren County $101,795 $0 1239
8130 Warrick County School Corp $115,247 $0 9905
8205 Salem Community Schools $105,000 $0 2037
8215 East Washington School Corp $105,000 $0 1653
8220 West Washington School Corp $100,764 $3,436 904
8305 Nettle Creek School Corp $106,125 $0 1199
8355 Western Wayne Schools $104,611 $0 1136
8360 Centerville-Abington Com Schs $103,791 $0 1723
8375 Northeastern Wayne Schools $99,084 $0 1113
8385 Richmond Community Schools $120,000 $0 5544
8425 Southern Wells Com Schools $95,000 $0 835
8435 Northern Wells Com Schools $108,000 $0 2598
8445 M S D Bluffton-Harrison $101,970 $400 1452
8515 North White School Corp $95,000 $3,000 897
8525 Frontier School Corporation $93,500 $0 772
8535 Tri-County School Corp $102,008 $21,600 760
8565 Twin Lakes School Corp $110,911 $0 2549
8625 Smith-Green Community Schools $96,000 $0 1258
8665 Whitley Co Cons Schools $127,000 $0 3600