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School administrator pay rises over 2 percent in tough budget year

School administrator pay rises over 2 percent in tough budget year

As districts face tough budgets, superintendents and other administrators still see pay increases
School administrator pay rises over 2 percent in tough budget year
Oliver Robinson, superintendent, Shenendehowa Central School District
Photographer: Marc Schultz/Staff Photographer

CAPITAL REGION -- The salary and total compensation of the Capital Region’s highest-paid school administrators will increase by over 2 percent on average in next year’s proposed school district budgets, according to state data.

The average salary for superintendents in the seven counties surrounding the state capital – Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga, Fulton, Montgomery, Schoharie and Rensselaer counties – is set to increase from $164,830 this school year to just over $168,500, or about 2.3 percent, under proposed budgets.

The increase in pay is not uncommon, but the salary increases come as districts grapple with what could be the first of multiple years of difficult budgets. Many districts have eliminated unfilled positions and some have moved to lay off employees in proposed budgets. Class sizes in many places will rise next year and some student offerings have been limited.

Some superintendents, including Niskayuna Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr., agreed to a salary freeze as a demonstration of shared pain and a first step in asking other employee union groups to make concessions. And in other places a switch in superintendent also shifts the pay structure, typically lower. But superintendents, like teachers and other groups of educations, largely have salary increases built into their contracts.

The salaries and total compensation for all top-paid administrators, including assistant superintendents, school principals and other district officials, are also set to increase about 2.3 percent in budgets for next school year. As part of annual budget reporting to the state Education Department, districts must disclose the salary and benefits of superintendents and any other administrator reaching a threshold salary. (Next year’s salary threshold for reporting to the state was $141,000.)

Shenendehowa Superintendent L. Oliver Robinson remains the highest-paid educator in the Capital Region, with a salary of $234,500 slated for next school year and a total compensation package topping $300,000 for the second straight year.

A total of six superintendents in the region are set to make salaries topping $200,000 next school year, including Ken Slentz in Ballston Spa, nearly $216,000; Marie Wiles in Guilderland, nearly $213,000; and Patrick McGrath in Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, nearly $207,000. Ten superintendents and one assistant superintendent in the region are set to have total compensation exceeding $250,000 next school year.

In Schenectady, superintendent pay dropped after former Superintendent Larry Spring, who this school year was on track to make over $200,000 in salary and over $263,000 in total compensation, resigned and acting Superintendent Aaron Bochniak took charge of the district. Bochniak is scheduled to make a salary of $162,500 and total compensation of just over $215,000 next school year, according to the state data.

The pressure on school district officials to freeze pay or forego raises may increase soon if the state’s finances do not recover and districts face multiple years of budget cuts. During the Great Recession, school and district leaders trimmed previously-planned pay increases as other cuts became necessary.

“Even if that isn’t reflected at this time, it could happen in the future and has happened in the past,” said Bob Lowry of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, noting that the number of superintendents taking pay freezes increased during the three most difficult budget years in the aftermath of that recession.

Capital Region's Top Paid Educators

L. Oliver Robinson, Shenedehowa superintendent; Salary: $234,504, Total Compensation: $308,435

John Carmello, Troy superintendent; Salary: $210,917, Total Compensation: $284,738

Dave Perry, South Colonie superintendent; Salary: $198,950, Total Compensation: $282,093

Patrick McGrath, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake superintendent; Salary: $206,986, Total Compensation: $274,262

Marie Wiles, Guilderland superintendent; Salary: $212,708, Total Compensation: $271,718

Ken Slentz, Ballston Spa superintendent; Salary: $215,872, Total Compensation: $267,143

Kaweeda Adams, Albany superintendent; Salary: $200,950, Total Compensation: $266,612

Jeffrey Simons, East Greenbush superintendent; Salary: $199,500, Total Compensation: $257,902

Tim Backus, South Colonie assistant superintendent for instruction; Salary: $180,266, Total Compensation: $253,284

Stephen Young, Berlin superintendent; Salary: $181,516, Total Compensation: $251,023

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