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Super salaries: School districts offering big bucks to attract top candidates

Batavi School District Superintendent Jack Barshinger

Batavia School District Superintendent Jack Barshinger

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Superintendent salaries, perks


Batavia Jack Barshinger $233,620 $78,832 $312,452 $110,932,326

West Aurora James Rydland 192,200 88,223 280,423 134,024,496

Naperville Mark Mitrovich 242,761 22,097 264,858 268,955,118

U46 Jose Torres 222,000 35,812 257,812 430,659,798

Geneva Kent Mutchler 213,709 31,228 244,937 92,272,738

Indian Prairie Kathryn Birkett 231,788 12,196 243,984 350,787,498

East Aurora Jerome Roberts 212,191 28,858 241,049 130,615,360

Oswego Dan O’Donnell 216,522 23,600 240,122 187,244,000

Yorkville Scott Wakeley 185,000 48,732 233,732 64,739,495

Somonauk Susan Workman 160,653 37,480 198,133 11,154,811

Kaneland Jeff Schuler 185,889 1,098 186,987 72,961,679

Central 301 Todd Stirn 149,320 36,352 185,672 43,285,071

Sandwich Rick Schmitt 132,250 42,999 175,249 30,060,011

Plano Laurel Walker 135,306 36,399 171,705 27,610,464

Hinckley-Big Rock Jim Hammack 126,175 36,225 162,400 11,639,035

CUSD 300* Michael Bregy 142,298 10,596 152,894 251,078,470

Newark Pauline Berggren 119,912 22,165 142,077 3,416,798

*Data for 2011 unavailable. Listed data is for 2010.

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Updated: June 28, 2012 12:43PM

Students, parents, residents and employees of the Oswego School District had the opportunity to weigh in on a few aspects of the superintendent search.

In a questionnaire they said they wanted someone with a vision for the district, someone cooperative, who always puts kids first. A doctorate, respondents said, was not nearly as important as someone with experience running a similarly sized school district.

But those parents, residents and employees didn’t get to weigh in on another aspect of the superintendent search — the $235,000 salary proposed for the position.

That proposal, included on postings for the job, represents an 8.5 percent increase over current Superintendent Dan O’Donnell’s pay, and it is representative of superintendents around the area who are commanding higher salary and benefit packages, despite shrinking school budgets.

Oswego School Board President Bill Walsh defended the compensation hike both because the community has “high expectations” for the new hire, and because the rate is “comparable” to other districts in the area.

In fact, a $235,000 salary is well above the $181,600 average for the 13 school districts in The Beacon-News’ readership area. The hike would also potentially make Oswego’s new hire the highest salaried superintendent in the Fox Valley.

In 2011, the highest salaries went to Batavia Superintendent Jack Barshinger, who made $233,620, followed by Indian Prairie Superintendent Kathy Birkett, at $231,788. Oswego’s O’Donnell had the third-higest salary at $216,522.

If those salaries seem large, however, they’re not representative of all that a superintendent brings home. Benefits varied wildly in a survey of what Fox Valley districts bestow on superintendents. Those benefits include generous health care payouts, bonuses, and even an annuity, in addition to pension contributions.

While Naperville’s retiring Superintendent Mark Mitrovich appears to earn the most among superintendents from the area as a whole — $242,761 in base salary in 2011 — once benefits like insurance premiums, pension contributions and bonuses are added in, Naperville actually is in third place in total compensation.

Oswego’s O’Donnell drops from third in the Fox Valley to sixth.

Barshinger by far made more than any superintendent in the area last year, with a total compensation of $312,452. That includes the base salary of $233,620, more than $12,000 in health and dental insurance, a $25,000 school district-purchased annuity, and a $7,300 bonus, for the leader of the eight-school district of 6,300 students.

Batavia School Board President Ron Link refused multiple requests for comment, and no other Batavia board members responded to a request for comment.

But a comparison showed that the size of a district often had no bearing on how administrators were compensated. Elgin School District U-46, the second-largest district in the state with 54 schools and more than 40,000 students, paid Superintendent Jose Torres $257,812 including benefits, putting his total compensation fifth among those surveyed.

In Yorkville, in 2010, his last year with the district, Superintendent Thomas Engler nearly doubled his $155,335 salary with benefits that brought his total compensation package up to $291,154 for a school district of just nine schools, 5,400 students, and a budget of $64.7 million.

Not all superintendents are banking on big salaries or bonuses, however. Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler, whose total compensation ranks 12th among superintendents in the Fox Valley, agreed this week to salary freeze along with pay freezes for other educational support staff like cooks and bus drivers. Two years ago, Schuler also agreed to lower his starting salary with the district.

But for those making bigger bucks, today’s hefty salaries will eventually mean tomorrow’s hefty pensions — except in one case.

Mitrovich, who announced he will leave the Naperville School District at the end of his three-year contract, will likely be ineligible for a pension from the Teachers Retirement System in Illinois, which requires five years of service in Illinois before service can be transferred in from another state. All but the past three years of Mitrovich’s career in education were spent in Washington state.

The Naperville School District, meanwhile, has hired Assistant Superintendent Dan Bridges to fill in as the district’s interim superintendent next year for a $210,000 base salary plus benefits.

Hiring an interim superintendent is also an option Walsh said Oswego is considering as the school year draws to a close and many potential candidates are already committed for the fall.

“Both options are available at this time,” he said.

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