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.