MEDICINE HAT, AB — The head of the organization which represents school superintendents in Alberta says he wants to work with the province’s education minister on the upcoming review of salary and compensation.
Monday morning, Education Minister David Eggen announced he will be reviewing the salaries of all school superintendents across the province. School boards have been tasked to turn over their superintendent contracts to Eggen for review.
“We are meeting with the minister next week, and what we’re hoping to ensure with out members are the CASS (College of Alberta School Superintendents) will play a role in this review,” said Barry Litun, executive director of the organization, over the phone from Edmonton.
The review was implemented following a report released last month by the Alberta School Board Association, which claimed superintendent salaries in Alberta were significantly higher than those in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Litun has disputed the findings from the report, which claimed base salaries in Alberta ranged from $$229,448 to $357,404.
“I think that, given that school boards must operate under a very restrictive cap for administration costs, and given that the average salaries of Alberta CEOs are similar to that in Ontario and Saskatchewan, I think that school boards have basically been prudent at hiring people at a rate that’s fare and reasonable both to them and the superintendents,” he said.
Superintendent salaries are available as part of a school board’s audited financial statements, completed every year in August. School boards negotiate the salaries for their superintendents, and the Education Minister must approve the contracts before it comes into effect.
Former Prairie Rose School Division superintendent Brian Andjelic received $185,561 in remuneration in 2017, according to last year’s financial statement
Stuart Angle, board chair with Prairie Rose School Division, says current superintendent Roger Clarke, who joined last September receives a yearly base salary of approximately $195,000 each year, which they negotiated and believe is fair.
“It’s comparable to other boards of our size in the South Zone,” he said. “It’s a fair package for everybody.”
Angle notes it can be harder to attract a superintendent to a rural area, especially one the size of Prairie Rose.
“Anybody working for Prairie Rose would know you’re going to be spending a lot of time behind a windshield,” he said. “You may be in Oyen and Foremost and finish your work day at 9 o’clock at night, and then you’ve got two hours to get home.”
According to the 2017 statements, SD76 superintendent Mark Davidson received $204,289 in remuneration last year.
Rick Massini, board chair of SD76, said the figure was agreed upon between both parties, and was based on comparisons with similar sized jurisdictions, including Red Deer, Lethbridge and Grande Prairie.
“Considering he has over 7,000 students and over 400 teachers to oversee and manage in a district that is really adamant about improving our instruction and maintaining up-to-date methodologies, I think it’s fair,” he said.
For the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education , superintendent Joe Colistro received $165,750 in remuneration in 2017, according to the documents.
Eggen has said he hopes to have the review completed as soon as possible, and will not be signing off on any new contracts until the review is completed.
-with files from the Canadian Press.
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