May 26th, 2018

Review of superintendent pay shouldn’t affect already below-average compensation in Medicine Hat

By Peggy Revell on March 13, 2018.


prevell@medicinehatnews.com
@MHNprevell

Alberta’s education minister announced Monday a review of school superintendent salaries — but local superintendents are already below the provincial average.

“The minister is going to review the numbers, and we’re not worried about that. No concerns about that whatsoever,” said Stuart Angle, board chair for the Prairie Rose School Division. PRSD reviewed salaries across the province and region “prior to even advertising” last year when they were searching for a new superintendent.

Ditto with SD 76, whose secretary treasurer did a “360(-degree) review” of salaries of like-sized school districts in the province, said board chair Rick Massini, when it hired Mark Davidson as superintendent in 2016.

“As it turns out, we’re well within a few hundred dollars of being spot on the average, and … we’re below the average superintendent salary for the province, all boards considered.”

Education Minister David Eggen announced the review following a report completed for the Alberta School Boards Association, which found base salaries for superintendents rose by 10 per cent between 2015 and 2016. The report said base salaries for Alberta superintendents ranged from $229,448 to $357,404, “significantly higher” than in Ontario, Saskatchewan and B.C.

Alberta’s highest paid school superintendent is Joan Carr in Edmonton, who earned $426,824 in total compensation last year.

According to SD 76’s 2016-17 audited financial statements, the base salary for Davidson was $204,289, with benefits at $54,745, negotiated allowance at $6,960, and $21,467 in expenses.

“When you look at the number initially, it seems pretty big. But by today’s standards, it’s not huge,” said Massini. “When you consider that our superintendent is in charge of over 7,000 students, over 400 teachers, plus support staff, and we’re pretty aggressive in modernizing our programs and so on, I think it’s totally in line with what you would expect to have to pay for a service like that.”

Audited statements for 2016-17 for the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education, listed superintendent Joe Colistro as having a base salary of $165,750, benefits of $38,069, a negotiated allowance of $3,360, and $15,491 in expenses.

PRSD’s new superintendent Roger Clarke was hired just at the start of the 2017-18 year, with a base salary of around $195,000, benefits at approximately $36,000 plus negotiated allowances and expenses, said Angle.

This is lower than the provincial average, said Angle, while “pretty much right in the middle of the pack” for the seven boards in southern Alberta.

The report for the ASBA was originally meant to help school districts negotiate with their superintendents.

The report has errors, said Massini, and he’s “kind of disappointed” it was intended for one use and is now being used for another. Yet he understands how the report backs the Education Minister into a corner, having to respond to it.

Angle also expressed disappointment at the report, saying there was “slanted” commentary from the consulting company who authored it. Angle expects there to be backlash against the ASBA for releasing the report with so little consultation with ASBA members.

Eggen says he’s reviewing contracts of superintendents in the 61 public, separate and Francophone school districts, along with charter school boards. The contracts are negotiated and set by individual schools boards. He will not be approving any new superintendent contracts in the meantime.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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