Thoughts on the Superintendent’s raise


Well,  the other night the Lunenburg School Committee voted to give Calmes a “MASSIVE” raise.  The reported this yesterday.  At the same time it was reported that we are currently under a budget crunch and shortfall yet again.  The amount of outrage I have heard from the community is palpable and frankly, taken at face value, I would be annoyed too!  But then again, I am more of a long term strategic thinker and am looking beyond the next 2 years and actually beyond the next 5 years….and you should too!

For the supporters this will be met with applause.  For the superintendent haters the will be accused of fiscal negligence.  For those who could care less, this will barely be a blip on the radar.

I am in a different camp. I am a school committee member.  I neither like nor dislike our superintendent.  I am in the camp that needs to think strategically about the well being of the district beyond the next 2 years and the perceived massive raise that will be robbing children of educational opportunities.

As a leader of a large marketing organization for a publicly traded company, I am constantly under budget pressures and pressure from my employees for more money.  Some of my long term employees are paid well under market value.  If any of them were to resign, I would be forced to go to the well for up to a 50% increase in salary. That would go over like a “fart in church” with our CFO.

As I sat there debating what to do about superintendent Calmes, it occurred to me she may have enough of the local politics and throw in the towel.  Then what?  What would that mean for the school committee?  Would we be in a position where we need to approach the town manager saying:  By the way, it is going to cost us 50%  more to replace her?  So, I did a little fact finding.

(Source State Department of education)

The top superintendent salary in the state:  Boston @$283,500, followed by Newton @ $229K, Wellesley @ $218K and Lawrence @ $209K.

But these districts are so much larger than ours.  I looked for comparable size based on # of students.  Here is what I found:  Whittier Regional Tech with 1,145 @ $173K; Hull with 1,240 @ $135K, Norfolk (k-6 only) with 1,109 @$146K. Harvard with 1,300 @$144K.

The net of my findings: some make more and some make less.  In my experience, if an employee leaves I am always looking for an upgrade.  If Superintendent Calmes leaves I am going to look for an upgrade.  Guess what folks…..This is going to cost us!  We are going to need to pay more than we currently do.

So here is why I chose to vote to give Superintdendent Calmes the 2.5% this year and next:

  1. We are trying to get a new school.  I do not want any change in the leadership, if possible, as we go through the planning for a new school
  2. I want to get the salary for the role (NOT THE PERSON) at a level where we can attract the best candidate should we lose Superintendent Calmes and by the way, we eventually will.  So let’s get ready for that day to come now versus begging the town manager and selectmen for money.

10 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Superintendent’s raise

  1. Anonymous on said:

    How about “IF” we/she gets the school she gets the cash. I see it as an incentive. If we don’t get the school…she still gets the cash and the town can’t afford her and we have no school.
    I worked in the semiconductor business for 20 yrs. If the company doesn’t mak a profit the employees don’t get a raise. T

  2. Resident on said:

    Mixed bag on whether I like it or not. I just wish the leadership equalled the salary and it is unfortunate that it doesn’t. Maybe not giving her a raise may have made her jump ship. The positive side to that may be that we pull someone in who had leadership skills and would make decisions for the district that would be beneficial. Who cares if it’s during a potential new project. God only know we have no leadership in that school either so maybe itnwould help. I’m tired and frustrated with this town and the lack of leadership. Maybe a board will eventually get the guts to stand up and do the right thing.

  3. Anonymous on said:

    In this economy there are plenty of intellegent capable people that can probably exceed what she does at a lower salary. If we don’t get the school, she still gets the cash, then what? Is that the time to get rid of her??? or will there be another excuse to keep her. She must be a relative of someone important.

  4. Anonymous on said:

    Giving people money in hopes for improved performance just shows a total lack of experience or maturity. But, forget the raise, a 6 year contract?
    Did you read the Ledger article by the High School Principal? The HS roof is leaking like a sieve. This building has been so mismanaged and this has been going on for 10 years. The Superintendent is responsible for this and has lead us through a failed school feasibility study and two failed regionalization efforts.
    What makes you think that this new study at 10x the cost of the previous study will result in a new school? What will you do if the effort is a failure? What has been going on with the HS represents the definition of insanity.
    This is not about responsible management, it’s about the typical Lunenburg party line partisan politics and that’s too bad.

    • Brendan Grady on said:

      Couple thoughts here: Failed regionalization? I do not consider keeping an independent school district as failed. Combining with either of the other school districts would have been culturally and financially awful.

      I sense a slight difference with this upcoming study. Compared to these others the is more community involvement with people I know personally and trust. My opinion is that there will be a lot more active involvement versus the other studies and regionalization cases. I may be wrong but this is personally important to me as well and I am going to push and push and push with the administration.

      As far as the high school goes, I do not need the ledger! It is a disaster.

      Thanks again for the comments. Greatly appreciate additional data points to help formulate my thoughts.

  5. Anonymous on said:

    This data on Superintendents salary is five years old but taken at the top of the economy, 2007.Your Salary comparision appears to be another flawed less compare Lunenburg with Wellesley;
    Many many towns in the 120,000 – 135,000 range.

    But all in all I do really appreciate your willingness to open dialog on this. YOU HAVE MY TOP VOTE !!:)

    • Brendan Grady on said:

      Fair point about the age of the data. I am going to dig more on it as well and discuss with friends in other similar sized towns.

      In no way do I want to compare us to Wellesley, Acton, Weston or any of these other towns. With that said, I also did not look at the lowest of the low.

      My approach to compensation in my day job is to look at the middle of the pack and, if possible, pay in the upper 25% to attract the best and the brightest. Sure, could I pick the lowest salary? Yep! But I do not want to do that.

      Thanks for the critical thought on this. This type of feedback will help me formulate my thoughts a little more clearly to help drive the discussion in the right direction.

  6. anonymous on said:

    Lunenburg’s school system is horrendous. All you do is talk about the budget in Lunenburg. Where’s the dialog about new and innovative programs for kids? Where’s the dialog about improving curriculum and instruction? Where’s the dialog about new and exciting inclusion opportunities for children with special needs? It must be exhausting to be a teacher in Lunenburg when every staff meeting is about the doom and gloom of the budget, who is going to lose their job, and what is being taken from little children next. Music class? Full day Kindergarten? No more paper? No new cutting edge curriculum materials? No more necessary special education programs for the neediest kids? While other school districts around Massachusetts are preparing for next year, looking over new materials, adopting innovative programs, attending exciting new professional development opportunities, and using their resources to create necessary programs to give kids with special needs what they deserve…….you guys sit and talk about the budget. Shame on you Lunenburg. You are a sad excuse for a school district. Don’t think for a minute that your poor leadership and fiscal irresponsibility isn’t killing the value of your homes, your community. I almost bought a house in Lunenburg. Thank GOD I didn’t. A new superintendent may be expensive, but trust me. YOU’LL GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!!!!!

    • Lunenburg Teacher on said:

      You have the right to your opinion, such as our district being horrendous, and others have a right to facts. The facts state that Lunenburg ranked in the top 20 schools in the state for 10th grade English (So unless you are in one of those districts I recommend you read the following expression: Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones). The district did not fare as well in the 10th grade math, but again, we were in the top half.

      As far as special ed goes…Seriously?? You are going to attack Lunenburg over special ed services. Wow! That is the first time I have ever heard anyone accuse Lunenburg of neglecting special ed students. I have heard more frequently they spend WAY TOO MUCH on special ed while neglecting the gifted children, not offering the programs THEY deserve. I would recommend you check out the budget for in district special ed and also the out of district special ed spending. You will find it to be either in line with or above other districts.

      If you care to continue in constructive dialog about what you think this district could do to better serve the needs of all students, I expect the school committee member writing this blog would welcome your feedback and constructive suggestions and recommendations. But basically saying “Lunenburg, YOU SUCK!” is really not the way to get Mr. Grady to respond. Frankly, I am surprised he even approved this…

  7. Michael Mackin on said:

    To May 3 Anonymous: GoLocalWorcester.com just rated Lunenburg High School 14 out of 60 high schools in Central Massachusetts. Because I’m employing facts, I have no need for anonymity.

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