From this mornings Republican-American
FALLS VILLAGE — A local radio personality and blogger’s concern about the salary of Region 1 Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain led to her defend the figure at a meeting of the Region 1 Board of Education Monday.
Marshall Miles, a local radio commentator on WHDD FM in Sharon and operator of a blog called regiononereport.com, has been outspoken about the contract raises and extensions that have been approved by the board for the five central office administrators. During the public comment period Monday he raised the issue, explaining he’d done a survey of surrounding area towns and the salaries they paid their top school administrators.“Our superintendent’s salary is top of the scale and comparable to others,” Miles said. “To take a 2 percent raise in these times is unconscionable.” Chamberlain later provided information about other area superintendents’ pay. Most of them have salaries higher than hers. Chamberlain’s salary is $148,360 plus an annuity of $8,902 for a total of $157,262. The board is proposing 2 percent wage increases for her and two others (3 percent for the remaining two), plus a contract extension to 2015.
The proposal calls for Chamberlain to receive next year a base salary of $151,327 plus an annuity of $9,080, for a total of $160,407.
She is also slated to get five additional vacation days and two more personal days.
Chairman Philip Hart asked Chamberlain if she’d like the opportunity to respond to Miles. She said she had called around that day to several other area districts and received salary information for superintendents.
According to Chamberlain, the Winchester system, which is pre-kindergarten through grade six, is small and has one school board. That superintendent’s current salary is $130,000.
Region 6, which has 1,036 students and one board of education, pays $162,000, while Region 7, with 1,007 students in grades seven through 12, pays $149,940. The superintendent in Region 10, which is a K-12 region, and has one board of education, gives a salary of $184,000 and Region 12, with 880 students and one board of education, pays $182,000, she said.
Region 7 does have separate local school boards in its member towns, although they have their own head administrator.
Chamberlain pointed out Region 1 has seven boards of education and seven budgets. Student population from the six towns totals 1,740.
Miles noted that Torrington, which has 5,000 students, is paying its new superintendent $142,000.
He said there is no question that a school superintendent needs to be fairly compensated, “but I don’t want people to think you’re drastically underpaid.”
The State of Connecticut Teachers Retirement Board (TRB) benefits are calculated based on the average of the three highest annual salaries, which usually are the last three years of employment. The following is from the TRB’s Employer’s Administrative Manual at http://www.ct.gov/trb/lib/trb/formsandpubs/trbmanual.pdf:
Page 8, Annual Salary:
In no event shall annual salary include amounts determined by the board to be included for the purpose of inflating the member’s annual salary. The inclusion in annual salary of amounts paid to the member, in lieu of payments by the employer for the cost of benefits, insurance or individual retirement arrangements which in prior years had been paid by the employer and not included in the member’s salary, shall be prima facie evidence that such amounts are included for the purpose of inflating the member’s average salary.
Page 11, Superintendent’s Base Salary:
A Superintendent’s “Base Salary” is defined as that element of compensation specifically and separately stated and paid to the Superintendent pursuant to an individual contract of employment in installments throughout the term of the contract, except that if any portion of such separately stated salary is deferred by means of a legally binding salary reduction agreement for the purpose of making payments to a tax sheltered annuity, such deferred salary shall be included in the Superintendent’s base salary.
A tax-sheltered annuity that is paid by the employee through a reduction in salary (elective deferral) is included for CTRB salary purposes.
Any annuity contribution based on a percentage of salary or as a stated dollar amount paid or purchased by a Board of Education directly to a financial institution is additional compensation (non-elective deferral) and is not included for CTRB salary purposes.
Region One Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain now wants to include her employer-paid Tax Sheltered Annuity in her base salary, although the annuity had been “additional compensation” in prior years according to the budget. She also calls this annuity now “elective deferral”, although the annuity had been “non-elective” Tax Sheltered Annuity directly paid by the Board to a financial institution in prior years according to the budget.
She said at the public hearing yesterday that the administration has been already reporting $157,262 inclusive of the annuity $8,902 for her Teachers Retirement Board for the current year ending June 30, 2012 after checking with two lawyers and TRB. She said, for the upcoming year she would like to be upfront to the public and therefore, showing in the budget $160,407 inclusive of the 6% annuity of $9,080 in line 17, “Salary/Annuity.”
Is she saying that it’s okay to deceive the public for the current year by showing $148,360 as salary in the budget but report to TRB $157,262 representing 106%? But now on she would like to be upfront? Is she also saying that it’s okay to exclude her annuity in TRB reporting in one year but include it in another year when it suits her? I thought the TRB requires the mandatory contributions from the members and one set of same rules applies to all members. Does she have a magical power to wipe out the historical facts and say, now on 106% is equivalent of 100%? What she says about her employer paid Tax Sheltered Annuity sounds manipulative and does not make sense to the public. Perhaps the Region One taxpayers should contact TRB and ask for the clarification of the ruling.