AP NEWS

School payroll shows salary gaps

May 14, 2019

STAMFORD - Board of Education salaries are a study in highs and lows.

Payroll data shows that more than 500 school employees, including many teachers, earned $100,000 or more last year. Several Central Office administrators earned closer to $200,000, and most principals and assistant principals were between that and $150,000.

But an equal number of school employees took home between $75,000 - considered the minimum an individual must make to pay the bills in Fairfield County - and $50,000.

Then there were the roughly 450 paraeducators, who assist teachers in classrooms, most of whom earned salaries in the $30,000s.

The 2018 payroll shows school employees get much less overtime pay than those in law enforcement, fire service or public works, but their base pay is significant.

Among the top 10 school earners, for example, were seven administrators whose salaries ranged from the $276,125 paid to former Superintendent Earl Kim, who resigned last month, to the $174,237 paid to Finance Director Hugh Murphy.

Three principals were among the top 10 earners in 2018 - Raymond Manka of Stamford High School, $185,129; Michael Rinaldi of Westhill High School, $182,071; and Mark Bonasera of Roxbury Elementary School, $169,444.

Considering base pay only, 66 of the top 100 highest earners citywide were Board of Education employees last year.

Pay gap

Beyond the 535 school employees who earned $100,000 or more, another 263 took home salaries in the $90,000s.

Those 798 employees last year made salaries above the median household income in Stamford, which was $85,000, according to the U.S. Census.

But a larger number of school employees, 856, earned $20,000 or less, the payroll shows.

Among them were full timers hired late in the year, but the number includes many of the 432 substitute teachers who worked in the district in 2018. Their pay ranged from $51,324 to $45.

District spokeswoman Sharon Beadle said that number of substitutes “seems typical” for a given year, but comparable data is not readily available.

The number of employees who took home $20,000 or less included 277 part-timers, who Beadle said do not receive benefits. Most part timers were tutors, coaches and those working in the Adult and Continuing Education program, Beadle said.

Last year the district employed a handful of “contracted consultants.” One was former Westhill Principal Camille Figluizzi, who was paid $67,200. Figluizzi filled in as director of curriculum and instruction, a vacant position, Beadle said, and then for the director of early-childhood education, who was on maternity leave.

Another former principal, Louisa Calka, was paid $58,625 to run the summer-school program, Beadle said.

Schools vs. city

The payroll shows that, among school employees, who numbered just over 2,900, most - nearly 2,200 - were full time.

That’s about twice the number of full-timers who worked for the city last year, according to Stamford’s 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

The report states that the city and school system together, with almost 3,330 full-timers, comprised the largest employer in Stamford last year.

But now there is a hiring freeze and district officials are reviewing their budget in search of savings, as they seek to reduce a projected $2.2 million deficit. State law mandates that they balance their books before the fiscal year ends on June 30.

The budget is in trouble because of an unexpected increase in the cost of special education, and because of an infestation of mold that followed last summer’s record-breaking rainfall.

Mold cleanup efforts revealed leaky roofs, foundations, windows and walls that went unrepaired for years. The fixes will cost tens of millions of dollars, so much that the city in October formed a separate fund outside the school budget by creating a Mold Task Force. To pay for the work, the city doubled its debt limit for 2019-20 to $50 million, and plans to do the same the following year.

Taxpayers must cover all of it.

As it stands, the average tax increase for the coming fiscal year will be about 3.3 percent.

The actual rates at which property owners will be taxed won’t be known until next week, when the Board of Finance meets to set the mill rate.

For fiscal 2019-20, elected officials have approved a $592 million operating budget, which includes $283 million for schools.

Last year the school budget was $273 million. Of that, $165 million, or 60 percent, was for salaries alone.

acarella@stamfordadvocate.com; 203-964-2296.