Scarborough school administrators trade benefits for salaries

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More than a dozen school jobs still on the line

SCARBOROUGH — Officials say a 4 percent pay raise proposed for school administrators is necessary to bring their salaries in line with those in other Maine districts.

“Last year we did an evaluation of where Scarborough was in terms of salaries,” School Board Finance Committee Chairman Robert Mitchell said. “We were in the 30th percentile for pay (compared to other Maine school districts).”

The salary increase comes as the district is proposing the elimination of as many as 16 jobs in fiscal 2012 because of reductions in state general purpose aid.

While budget lines for the school district’s 17 administrators appear to have increased by 7 to 16 percent for next year, administrators have given back a week of vacation and taken a 5 percent increase in their contribution to health insurance in exchange for more take-home pay.

Overall, administrators will receive an average salary increase of 4 percent, which will be distributed based on individual performance evaluations.

As a result, Mitchell said, the district is working on being more competitive in all salaries, from janitors, to teachers, to administrators.

“Overall, the pay scale is going up,” Mitchell said. “Everyone is getting different raises. We want to be able to establish that we’re competitive in all levels.”

Earlier versions of the proposed $35.3 million school budget included elimination of almost 24 jobs. But the School Board added back some high school teaching positions and a guidance councilor position, leaving the cuts at 16 positions as of this week.

The budget is still being tweaked by the board and significant changes could still be made. The first reading of the town and school budgets will be held at the Town Council meeting on Wednesday, April 6. The school budget will go to voters May 17.

Jo Anne Sizemore, who became acting superintendent part-way through the school year, said the 16.7 percent increase in the superintendent’s budget line, from more than $158,000 to nearly $185,000, reflects the hiring of George Entwistle III as the new superintendent, as well as approximately 60 percent of her own salary.

The remaining 40 percent of her salary is reflected in the adult education section of the budget, because she is also the adult ed director. There, her proposed salary is up 6.7 percent compared to this year’s budget.

The combined middle school principal and assistant principal salaries are up 10.6 percent, from more than $159,000 to more than $176,000. The high school principals’ salaries are also up 10 percent, from more than $247,000 to more than $272,000.

“The increases represent new people who came on board,” Sizemore said. “They weren’t on the salary step increases until after a year.”

However, at Wentworth Intermediate School, where Principal Anne-Mayre Dexter and Assistant Principal Ellen Beale have been working for several years, the salary line increased from more than $160,000 to more than $177,000.

“People gave up vacation and benefits,” Mitchell said. “Next year’s budget is taking into account what was actually spent this year.”

The approved budget is almost always different than the actual budget, he said, and because the school year is not over, official numbers are not available for what the district will actually spend on salaries this year.

Mitchell said the proposed 4 percent average increase in administrator pay is offset in the budget by the decreases in benefit lines. For instance, the high school principals’ benefits line decreased by almost 12 percent.

Health insurance costs overall are up and some benefits lines did increase, but the overall employee contributions by administrators is up by 5 percent.

For teachers whose positions were not cut, some received step increases, others did not.

“They reorganized all the steps this year,” Sizemore said. “They tried to give more to teachers with seven to ten years experience.”

Mitchell explained that, in order to be more competitive, the district created new steps for teachers who continue their education.

“These teachers that do work on their own time, they’re worth retaining,” he said. “We’re trying to keep it competitive.”

The budget also calls for a 7.25 percent increase in salaries for the athletic director and trainer, and a 2.6 percent increase in athletic coach stipends.

High school co-curricular stipends are up more than 10 percent.

A public hearing on the budget will be held April 27 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst