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School administrator salaries below average : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
School administrator salaries below average
Study finds Oswego salaries 'not competitive' for most positions

by Lyle R. Rolfe


Oswego School District Board members learned Monday night that salaries for the district's administrators are below average for comparably-sized school districts.

A study done for the district by Dr. Craig Schilling, Northbrook-based consultant, compared the district's salaries to those of six other suburban districts: East Aurora, West Aurora, St. Charles, Wheaton, Valley View and Carpentersville.

"For most positions, Oswego's administrative salaries are not competitive," he said.

Schilling told the board Oswego's salaries are generally at or below the first quartile.

"This means that up to 75 percent of their administrative peers are compensated higher in the six districts for which data was collected," he said.

Schilling added that this does not mean Oswego must change its salaries.

"If you're getting the high quality of people that you want without having high salaries, then God bless your district. If they're staying here because they love it here, then it works. But we often find that this doesn't work.

"If you're getting high-quality people, and they're leaving after two or three years, that gets to be tough on teachers and eventually will reflect on students," he added.

All of the districts studied by Schilling have enrollments ranging between 12,000 and 22,000 students. The Oswego School District's current enrollment is 17,761.

Schilling said he used the 2012-13 salaries for all districts. The only benefits included were the district's payments into the state's retirement system, he said.

The study encompassed administrators in more than 20 positions, including principals and assistants at the elementary, middle and high school levels, directors for buildings and grounds, bilingual, business, human resources, instruction, public relations, special education, technology and transportation departments as well as assistants for these positions.

Several charts showing Schilling's findings throughout the six comparison districts were presented on the district's website under the agenda for Monday's board meeting. The charts show the positions by title, how many people hold those positions throughout the six districts, and the low, high, and middle salaries for the positions.

He noted that most districts like to have their salaries somewhere near the middle.

Schilling said he did not consider years of experience in his study because there is too much variance. He noted that the wealthiest districts often pay much higher salaries to hire people with more years of experience.

He said the board could ignore the results of the study and continue paying administrators at or below the current market for such positions. But he noted that this would most likely result in higher than expected turnover in key positions which could, in turn, impact student achievement.

The board also could implement a more aggressive adjustment in administrative salaries. This would establish a salary range plus or minus approximately $5,000 above or below the median of salaries for the six districts. This would put the district's salaries in the middle of those in the study.

He said they also could make some modest salary adjustments for new hires. But, he cautioned that this can cause problems, because they could be paying more to new people than present people in like positions are being paid.

Schlling said they should plan to keep employees such as principals for at least five years because they are in charge of teachers. If they leave before this, they are not able to implement their goals resulting in the district losing good academic talent, he added.

Schilling said the consequences of administrative employee turnover are clearly negative, on average.

"Turnover is likely to be disruptive for schools and other organizations for a variety of reasons-it can undermine reform efforts and reduce employee buy-in, fracture professional networks developed among employees and leadership, create unclear goals and expectations, and make for a less stable and desirable working environment," he added.

Always chasing to
keep salaries up?

Board member Brent Lightfoot said they will always be chasing salaries because no matter what changes they make, other districts will be doing the same thing.

Schilling agreed, but said they don't have to pay the highest salaries to keep good people.

Superintendent Dr. Matthew Wendt asked the board members to review the study and consider looking at administrative salaries late next spring. He said this would allow his staff to recruit new people at salaries that would be in line with the school board's philosophy for non-administrative pay.

Schilling said most districts make adjustments each year, but noted that more off them are tying increases to performance requirements set by the boards, something the district could consider.

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