Montgomery school board approves $250,000 salary for new superintendent
Starr's compensation puts him on par with New York, Los Angeles chiefs
The next superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools will earn $250,000 in annual salary, in the same league as school chiefs in New York City and Los Angeles, under the terms of a four-year contract approved Tuesday by the Board of Education.
Joshua P. Starr, currently the superintendent in Stamford, Conn., also could earn salary increases based on annual evaluations that include specific performance goals for the school system such as student achievement. By Oct. 1, Starr and the school board are expected to agree on the goals. The goals and objectives are intended to be made part of the contract, and then made public.
A facilitator for helping to determine performance goals and other parts of Starr's evaluation is part of the contract, but was not mentioned in the contract outgoing Superintendent of Schools Jerry D. Weast signed with the school board in 1999.
The board also "presumed" it will give Starr annual salary increases, taking into account the performance goals, "fiscal realities" and salary increases given to other school system employees. Starr also will receive $35,000 in annual deferred compensation and $18,750 annually toward his retirement, as well as medical, dental and life insurance. For "technology support," he will receive a personal computer or laptop, a Blackberry or an iPhone, software, and a telefax/printer machine.
In addition to receiving a vehicle for both business and personal purposes, Starr also is entitled to reimbursement for "reasonable out-of-pocket" expenses, and is required to submit a monthly expense report to the school board president. He also can receive up to $30,000 in relocation expenses.
"It (the contract) really sets the tone and paves the way for a very productive working relationship," said board Vice President Shirley Brandman (At large) of Bethesda before the contract was approved in a 7-0 vote.
The contract stipulates that Starr can hold outside employment as superintendent with school board approval. Janis Sartucci, a frequent school system critic and member of the advocacy group Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, questioned whether Starr would spend too much time trying sell the school system's image.
"Do we need someone to sell the brand, or do we need someone to run the school system?" she said.
Starr was selected April 25 as the system's next superintendent. Since 2005, he has led the 15,500-student, 20-school system in Stamford. He also has worked in the New York City Department of Education.
Starr's salary is higher than Weast's initial base salary in 1999 of $237,000, plus cost-of-living increases. However, amendments to Weast's contract in subsequent contract negotiations, such as the extension of a life insurance policy from 2007 to 2022 for $400,000 worth of coverage, have increased the value of his contract. Weast's last day as superintendent is June 30.
In what was seen as a formality, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick gave her official approval to Starr's selection prior to the board's contract approval.
The average superintendent's salary in Maryland is about $196,000, according to information from the Maryland State Department of Education for the 2010-2011 school year. Among the state's 24 school systems, the highest-paid superintendent is Joe Hairston, who makes $307,000 running Baltimore County Public Schools. Superintendents negotiate their salaries individually with their school boards.
Prince George's County Public Schools Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. makes $250,000 in salary, the department reported, while Howard County's superintendent, Sydney Cousin, has a salary of $265,000. Henry V. Wagner, superintendent of Dorchester County schools, is making $122,000 in salary this school year, the lowest figure in the state.
Starr's earnings now appear to be on par with superintendents of the largest school systems in the country. The Empire Center for New York State Policy's database of public salaries reported former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein's annual salary at $250,000, the same amount paid to the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2009-2010, when Ramon Cortines was superintendent, the district's salary chart shows.