Red Deer’s two school boards are defending how much they pay their superintendents after Alberta’s education minister suggested it was too much.
If Minister David Eggen believes Alberta’s superintendents’ salaries are overly lucrative, then why is he approving them, questioned Red Deer Public School Board Chair Bev Manning.
These salaries “have been under his purview,” she noted, since Eggen became Minister of Education in 2015.
On Tuesday, Eggen said he’s considering a pay cap and salary grid after a report indicated Alberta’s school superintendents make more than their counterparts in Ontario, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
Top school administrators’ salaries in Alberta have been rising “precipitously”over the last few years, although other public-sector management wages are frozen — and the public is rightly concerned, the minister said in legislature.
While Alberta’s highest-paid superintendent from the Edmonton Catholic School Division is looking to get a $430,000 annual package, Red Deer’s superintendent wages are significantly lower.
Red Deer Public Schools Superintendent Stu Henry gets an annual base salary of $216,300 for heading a school division of 10.700 students and about 1,300 staff.
Red Deer Regional Catholic schools Superintendent Paul Mason collects $215,000 of base salary a year for overseeing the third largest Catholic school division in Alberta, with 10,000 students and more than 500 teachers.
Both school board chairs believe their top administrators provide good value for the money.
Catholic Chair Anne Marie Watson said a salary review done three years ago showed their superintendent was underpaid compared to others.
As a result, the head of Red Deer Catholic schools received a one-time seven per cent wage increase, as an adjustment. Mason has since received yearly increases of about 1 per cent or just over as part of a contract approved by Alberta’s education minister.
“I don’t think, for a division of our size, it’s too much,” said Watson, since her board routinely does comparisons and pays to retain good people.
Manning said Henry’s wages have been frozen for the last few years. “Our superintendent is fairly compensated. As far as I’m concerned he earns every cent of the money. It’s a hugely important job.”
Both women questioned the report prepared for the Alberta School Boards Association that found superintendents in this province earned among the highest wages in Canada.
Watson noted that Ontario superintendents work under school division CEOs, so do not have the top responsibilities, as they do in Alberta. “I feel we have always been fiscally prudent by keeping all the dollars we can in the classroom,” she added.
Manning wants to take a closer look at report, saying “I don’t know that it paints an accurate picture.”