Education minister David Eggen announced changes to school division superintendents’ salaries June 1. These changes reduce salaries along with some questionable benefits. Black Press photo

Superintendent compensation limits set, hopes to have more cash for classrooms

New salary grid put in place, though only impacts new contracts

Exactly how a new salary framework for school division superintendents will produce savings isn’t clear.

On June 1, Alberta’s Minister of Education David Eggen announced new guidelines that will govern salary and compensation packages for superintendents beginning immediately.

The framework is meant to save around $1.5 million that would be put back into the classrooms and realign the top job at school boards pay with those of other provincial public sector executives at agencies, boards and commissions.

However, out of the 74 superintendents in Alberta, only a couple will be immediately affected as the guidelines only impact new contracts. So, the financial impact will only come into play when contracts are up for renewal.

“Clear limits for superintendent pay will help ensure public funds continue to be put where they can do the most good for Alberta’s students, while ensuring boards can continue to recruit top leaders,” said Eggen in a release.

The guidelines place superintendents on a five level grid system with their level determined by the roles and responsibilities performed in their specific school division as well as bring compensation more in line with other provinces.

This new grid was also brought in to eliminate some of the more outlandish benefits that some contracts had including $1,200 for a gym membership, a similar amount to pay for a superintendent’s spouse to attend school board events, $10,000 for what was described as ‘incidentals’ with no specifics, $10,000 for a superintendent’ children’s post-secondary education and $25,000 in ‘executive compensation’ that could be taken in an RRSP, health spending or as cash.

Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) is among the 23 divisions placed at level four — salary range from $178,000 to $228,000 — while St. Thomas Aquinas Roman (STAR) Catholic School Division is among 16 other divisions at level three with a range of $166,000 to $210,000.

That said, WCPS superintendent Jayson Lovell’s compensation is close to the new grid — with salary of $205,000 and benefits of about $40,000 — while the contract for STAR’s new superintendent has not yet been signed and will be subject to the new guidelines. Lovell’s contract is up for renewal in a year.

The previous STAR superintendent was paid $193,000 and benefits of $40,000. These figures are part of the public disclosure in the audited financial statements from school divisions by Alberta Education.

Other contract limitations include available allowances, more reasonable severance and restrictions on other expenses that are reimbursed.

Meanwhile, the only comment coming from superintendents was courtesy of the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS) via a press release.

“CASS has been committed from the outset of this review process to working with the government to create a compensation structure that is fair, equitable and transparent, and would respect the vital role our superintendents play as education system leaders,” stated CASS president Christopher MacPhee.

“While not all of CASS’s recommendations for a new structure were adopted by the government in this review, our superintendents remain fully dedicated to overseeing and managing the schools where our children thrive. We will work with the government to ensure the new structure is properly implemented across the province and that our collective energy remains focused on our students.”

The statement concluded that CASS will not be making any further comments at this time.

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