Schenectady schools Superintendent Larry Spring’s salary will top $200,000 starting next month — a more than 10 percent increase since he took the job in 2012 — after the board approved adding another year to his four-year contract, which now runs through June 2021.
With the 2 percent raise approved last week, Spring’s base salary increases to $200,060 at the start of July. With benefits, Spring’s total compensation for the coming school year will top $260,000.
School board President Cathy Lewis said after last Wednesday’s meeting that the board regularly adds an extra year to the contract as a sign of support for the superintendent. If the board didn’t do so, she said, the superintendent may take that as a signal to look elsewhere for jobs.
“We are pleased with what is happening in the district, the initiatives that have been taken, the fact his advocacy efforts have begun to pay off with increased funding,” Lewis said. “There are so many different initiatives I can’t even name them all.”
Since taking the helm, Spring has focused on issues of equity — leading a massive redistricting plan, establishing a years-long effort to renovate schools and pressing lawmakers for increased funding. He has laid out the ambitious goal of ensuring that “race, economics and disability are never predictors of student achievement.”
Board members and other supporters have credited Spring with ramping up public pressure on lawmakers to boost the district’s funding — which remains tens of millions of dollars short of what a state formula says the district should get. They also point to an effort to systematize early literacy education in the district, programs that emphasize alternative forms of punishment for students and a move toward free meals for all district students.
The district has improved its graduation rate in the years since Spring took control.
The August graduation rate in 2012 when he came aboard was 58 percent; last August, the graduation rate was 69 percent, the highest since 2006.
Passage rates on Regents exams have also climbed.
This year’s August graduation rate is expected to slide a few percentage points. Spring said last week he thinks in five years the district should be “knocking on the door” of an 80 percent graduation rate.
Despite gradual improvements, the district continues to struggle on annual state assessments that measure math and English language proficiency for students in third through eighth grades.
Still fewer than one-fifth of Schenectady students scored proficient on the state English language arts tests last year and more than half scored at the lowest score.
Spring also faced outbursts of criticism this school year from teachers who argue liberal student promotion policies have taught students they don’t need to work hard to move to the next grade.
With benefits, Spring’s overall compensation has topped $200,000 since he was hired away from Cortland Enlarged City School District, where he served as superintendent for six years.
During the 2016-17 school year, Spring made a salary of more than $196,000, with an additional $56,000 in benefits. He started his tenure in 2012 at a salary of $181,200.
In an interview last week, Spring said he envisioned himself in Schenectady for the foreseeable future and that he “would love to” see his daughters — neither of who are yet in high school — graduate from the district.
“I’m loving this work, this is really energizing to me, I feel like we are making great progress,” Spring said.