At a time when school boards are bracing the public for budget cuts, the rich salaries revealed this month for school superintendents is troubling.
Not withstanding the fine work of Central Okanagan School District superintendent Kevin Kardaal, he’s overpaid and so are several others at the board office.
According to the Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) report, Kardaal’s salary is $235,000, which goes along with $29,000 in expenses.
Comparatively, the top-paid high school principal (based on seniority and other factors) would be lucky to earn half of what Kardaal takes home.
Is something wrong with this picture?
In education, top administrators are like TV’s George Jefferson — they worked their way up from the humble beginnings of classroom teacher to the ranks of superintendent. They are all former teachers.
With education being team focused, the superintendent shouldn’t make anything beyond 10 per cent more than the top-paid principal.
It’s the principal who deals day to day with issues such as teen suicide, violence, depression, bullying and anxiety. It’s the principal who has to keep 100-plus staff members happy. It’s the principal who gets to deal with distressed parents. When something goes wrong, it’s the teachers and principals who get blamed, not the suits at the board office. Never mind the many extra hours required to supervise student activities and attend special presentations by the students.
Shortly after the SOFI report was released, board chair Moyra Baxter warned of a potential $2.8 million shortfall for the district due to a new provincial-funding model. Baxter is also concerned about the cost of busing.
There’s a myth in the public sector that you have to pay good money to get good people. Private schools, which don’t pay nearly as well as public schools, have all kinds of good people.
The education system also does a poor job of succession training. The brass has trustees convinced there’s a shortage of people capable of doing the job. Why train new people when superintendents can double-dip in retirement?
This issue is totally out of control. Trustees are brainwashed by their CEOs, not just here, but right across the province. It all starts at Trustee Academy in Vancouver where the training comes not from former trustees, but retired superintendents. The superintendents attend the trustee conventions — but it’s not the other way around.
The provincial government needs to step in — much the way former Premier Gordon Campbell did when his government froze administrative wages — and restructure pay scales so it’s reasonable and fair for all parties, including the superintendents.
For every additional dollar senior administrators earn, that’s one dollar less that’s going to children.