District 51 behind others in salaries for superintendents
School District 51 Superintendent Steve Schultz may have gotten a bump in pay with the new contract he signed last month. But with an annual base salary of $160,000, he is still making less than almost every superintendent in Colorado school districts of comparable size.
Salaries at or above $200,000 per year are the norm for half of the superintendents in a pool of the four Colorado school districts immediately ahead of District 51 in student counts and the four school districts in the state that rank just behind District 51 in student population. Three more superintendents in the group annually make $180,000 to $199,455. Only the chief education officer, who has duties similar to that of a superintendent, at 18,880-student Falcon 49 School District in Peyton earns less than Schultz at $142,200 per year.
District 51 School Board President Greg Mikolai said Schultz and the board were well aware of how much other superintendents in medium to large Colorado school districts make when they approved his contract, which goes into effect today and extends through June 30, 2017. But with a base salary of $147,115 in 2013-14, Mikolai said taking Schultz’s salary up to levels seen at other school districts of a similar size would have necessitated a drastic, and likely unpopular, administrative budget increase.
“Had we given Steve the raise that he deserved, I think we would have had a public outcry,” Mikolai said. “Where we arrived at the $160,000 was seeing what we could be comfortable with.”
On top of his salary, Schultz’s contract includes clauses that call for a $10,000 bonus for every year the district meets full accreditation standards and introduce the possibility of additional incentives for achieving other, yet-to-be-determined goals.
Mikolai said incentive payments offered a way to recognize Schultz’s value to the district without inflating his salary by double-digit percentages.
Incentive payments aren’t a common sight in the school districts close to District 51’s size, but they aren’t unheard of.
The newly signed contract with Pueblo City School District 60 Superintendent Constance Jones offers a $5,000 relocation allowance and district-funded protection for Jones and her family if she or her family are threatened or in danger “because of the performance of her official duties.”
Poudre Superintendent Sandra Smyser got a moving allowance of up to $15,000 when her contract began in 2013.
Academy 20 Superintendent Mark Hatchell in Colorado Springs gets $1,900 a month to attend meetings and events pertinent to his job.
Severance payments for firing without cause vary but include providing six months of pay and benefits or the remainder of salary and benefits for the current contract year (Academy 20, Colorado Springs 11, and Pueblo 60); paying out the remainder of a contract year’s salary and benefits (Brighton 27J and Poudre); and paying salary and benefits for the remainder of the contract year and one additional year (Greeley).
Schultz’s contract awards him three months of pay and benefits if he is fired without cause.
Travel allowances of $500 to $800 each month appear in almost all of the nine superintendent contracts; vacation days vary from 20 to 25 days per year; and Academy 20, Pueblo 60 and Colorado Springs 11 require their superintendents to live within school district boundaries.
Colorado Springs 11 is the only district that includes an anti-nepotism clause in its superintendent’s contract and Poudre is the only district with a clause addressing intellectual property; its superintendent owns any creative content she makes outside her duties at the district, but any intellectual property she designs as superintendent is owned by the district.