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Superintendent compensation range approved

School district settles at $250,000 to $265,000

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Oct 21, 2021

The next superintendent of the School District of Lee County will receive between $250,000 to $265,000 in salary.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Ken Savage was offered a salary of $209,000. His total compensation is $293,000.

The school board held a meeting Wednesday with consulting firm Ray & Associates to discuss the base salary of the incoming superintendent, as well as the findings of the online survey that just concluded and what was shard during community forums.

Ray and Associates Executive Vice President Molly Schwarzhoff advised the board to have no more than a $10,000 salary range. They will not advertise the benefit package other than the district offers excellent benefits and there is room for negotiation. President Michael Collins said the competition now, more than ever, is significant and the board should make the salary attractive.

“I think you need to take the number and create a range and know there is a chance you are going to negotiate up,” he said.

Schwarzhoff said when it gets a little bit later in the game and the board knows who the candidates are, discussions will begin of how high they will go up in that salary range.

“Let’s have the discussion once we get to know those candidates. Let’s have that range number, attractive to candidates coming from a national level and leaves for negotiation on the board side,” she said.

The closest Florida county to Lee, as far as number of students, is Pinellas with 99,798 students enrolled. The average salary of the superintendent is $308,992.92. Duval, at 130,299 students, has an average salary of $275,000 for the superintendent and Polk, with 107,696 students has an average of $238,000 salary for its superintendent.

Board member Cathleen O’Daniel Morgan threw out the first range in salary she came up with after looking over the various salaries of superintendents.

“I came up with a number, $250,000 to $275,000. What $250,000 represents to me is maybe not a superintendent,” she said, adding that $275,000 is talking “about someone proven to be the superintendent level.”

Board member Chris Patricca did not agree with that analysis and said she was hesitant to advertise a salary for someone who has not been a superintendent or CEO.

“I would lean in the direction of a higher salary. What sort of drives my view on this issue is we get what we pay for,” she said.

Another range provided was between $230,000 to $250,000, provided by Board member Mary Fischer.

“Total compensation could be a significant amount. That makes a notable difference,” she said.

After a consensus, the board decided to make the range between $250,000 to $265,000.

The board also voted on the superintendent flyer, which includes information about the district, including its mission, vision and values. In addition, it shared the superintendent qualifications, which was a combination of the top choices of the board and stakeholders.

“We thought there would be a big spread between stakeholders and the board. I was very pleasantly surprised. You are very much aligned with your stakeholders,” Schwarzhoff said. “When I was going through this I was really proud of your stakeholders and the board. There wasn’t a huge gap. That doesn’t happen very often.”

The number of people who took part in the survey was huge, with more than 6,000 participants, she said.