Wilton Board of Education chair Christine Finkelstein is correcting a recent report that Wilton Schools‘ superintendent Dr. Kevin Smith received a hefty raise this year. She has said that an article in last week’s Wilton Bulletin stating Smith received a salary $35,974 increase this year is “not correct.” She also noted that she welcomed the opportunity to put the numbers in context.
In an emailed response to questions about the figures, Finkelstein spelled out the salary increases Smith has received since being hired in July 2014, with a starting base of $199,000, to his yearly salary today of $242,000. At the time he was hired, he was also given an additional $20,000 “incentive compensation” and the BOE “set specific metrics for him to achieve in order to earn full compensation.” According to Finkelstein, that salary still made Smith the lowest paid superintendent among his peers.
“We felt this was a wise course since he was new to Wilton, and at the time, only had a few years of experience at the superintendent level. (Even after earning the $20K compensation, Dr. Smith was still the lowest paid superintendent in our area.),” she wrote.
She added that not only was he the lowest paid superintendent when he started in Wilton in 2014, he is still the lowest paid superintendent in DRG-A, the group of eight towns grouped by the state for comparison.
“He was the lowest paid superintendent when he was hired in 2014, and remains so today,” Finkelstein wrote.
- “During the three years of his first contract, he was awarded annual increases of 1.75%. Thus, annual compensation amounted to:
- 2014-2015: $199,000 (+$20,000 incentive)
- 2015-2016: 1.75% increase to $202,483 (+$20,000 incentive comp)
- 2016-2017: 1.75% increase to $206,026 (+$20,000 incentive comp)
- When his contract was renegotiated last spring for 2017-2018, the BOE opted to fold the $20,000 incentive compensation into his base salary, which became $226,026. Finkelstein says the BOE was “highly pleased with his performance,” and felt a raise in Smith’s compensation would make him “more competitive” with his DRG-A counterparts.
- “Per the terms of his contract, Dr. Smith’s pay increased from $226,026 to $234,000 on July 1, 2017, and then to $242,000 on December 1, 2017.”
- With the incentive compensation folded into Smith’s salary, his year-to-year compensation increase was $15,974, rather than $35,974–or a salary increase of 7% rather than 17%.
- Future salary increases will be at the discretion of the Board.
Finkelstein listed the salaries of other nearby superintendents in DRG-A: $308,000 for Darien’s superintendent Dr. Dan Brenner; $290,248 for Dr. Bryan Luizzi in New Canaan; $278,120 for Weston’s superintendent Dr. William McKersie (who was hired in 2016).
Finkelstein says that not only is Smith worth the salary he receives but that it is something she hopes will retain him in the Wilton district.
“We believe Dr. Smith has been highly effective since taking over leadership of the Wilton Public Schools. I should also note our concern that given the highly competitive nature of DRG-A superintendencies, Dr. Smith is attractive to other districts that offer more generous pay packages.”
Educational leadership is very important and the good news is that there are many highly qualified educators available. With that in mind, I guarantee that the Wilton Board of Ed. does not have to offer such a high level of compensation and bonuses for experienced educational leadership. There are many candidates available who would do this job very well for far less than Wilton is paying and the same is true for the surrounding school districts. There is no proven connection between high salary and high performance.
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