Which Vermont Superintendents Make the Most - and Least - Money?
Few jobs in Vermont pay as handsomely, or come with as much pressure and responsibility, as does superintendent of schools.
Superintendents act as school-system CEOs and are in charge of curriculum development, teacher hiring, budget writing, data analysis — even maintenance of school buildings and grounds. That can make them lightning rods for criticism from teachers, administrators, parents and local school boards.
On average, Vermont’s 60 superintendents earn $105,337 a year, not counting benefits and other compensation, according to the Vermont Department of Education. By comparison, Vermont’s commissioner of education earns $98,000 annually to run that department.
While $105,000 might seem like a small fortune to many, it’s actually on the low side of the industry pay scale, according to Jeff Francis, executive director of the Vermont Superintendents Association. Neighboring states like Connecticut and New York pay significantly more; the national average is around $155,000.
What keeps Vermont on the “low” end? Francis suggests it’s because of rural school districts that have few students and even fewer employees. “Salaries in Vermont are Vermont scale,” he says.
But some suggest that Vermont has more highly paid superintendents than it needs. This year, Vermont Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca proposed consolidating the state’s 60 supervisory unions and supervisory districts into 45 — a move that would have eliminated roughly 18 superintendent positions and saved the state almost $2 million. The proposal died in the legislature in favor of a bill encouraging school consolidation. But merging districts is still on the state’s agenda.
The real savings from school consolidation would come from combined contracts for teachers, food service and transportation, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Jill Remick. But superintendents — with their six-figure salaries — represent low-hanging fruit for cost cutters.
“There are some supervisory unions with only 400 kids,” Remick notes. “We feel there’s some room for merging districts.”
There is a wide range of Vermont superintendent salaries, according to the state’s 2008-09 Teacher-Staff Survey. On the high end, the Chittenden South Supervisory Union, encompassing the affluent towns of Shelburne and Charlotte, pays its superintendent $164,645 — more than the governor, who makes $150,051. In remote Essex North Supervisory Union, near the Canadian border, the same position pays $72,000.
As it is for any job, superintendent pay is based on experience and market conditions, Francis says. Salaries hinge on the size of the district and the candidate’s background.
The state’s annual salary survey indicates the amounts school systems budget for teacher, staff and administrator pay, rather than actual contracted salaries. The salaries cannot be read as actual salaries for specific superintendents. Still, the information reveals general trends about which districts pay the most, and least, for a school-system chief.
To the left are the state’s 10 highest and 10 lowest superintendent salaries as reported by Vermont schools.
10 Highest Superindtendent Salaries
|School System||Salary||Number of Schools||Total Students|
|Chittenden South Supervisory Union||$164,645||6 schools serving Charlotte, Hinesburg, Shelburne, Williston, St. George||4282|
|South Burlington School District||$134,127||6 schools serving South Burlington||2633|
|Chittenden Central Supervisory Union||$133,502||6 schools serving Essex Junction, Westford||2635|
|Essex Town School District||$126,506||
3 schools serving all Essex,
|Rutland City School District||$124,717||5 schools serving Rutland City||2532|
|Burlington School District||$122,000||9 schools serving Burlington||3537|
|Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union||$117,989||7 schools serving Chittenden, Brandon, Pittsford, Whiting, Leicester, Goshen, Sudbury, Mendon||1653|
|Chittenden East Supervisory Union||$115,856||8 schools serving Huntington, Jericho, Richmond, Bolton, Underhill||2840|
|Springfield School District||$114,450||5 schools serving Springfield||1493|
|Windsor Central Supervisory Union||$113,014||8 schools serving Barnard, Bridgewater, Pomfret, Reading, Killington, Woodstock,||1141|
10 Lowest Superintendent Salaries
|Windsor Southwest Supervisory Union||$96,324||4 schools serving Proctorsville, Chester, Londonderry, Peru, Landgrove, Weston, Andover, Cavendish, Baltimore||1084|
|Orange East Supervisory Union||$96,007||6 schools serving Bradford, Newbury, Thetford, Corinth, Topsham||1249|
|Caledonia North Supervisory Union||$96,000||7 schools serving West Burke, East Haven, Lyndon Center, Lyndonville, Sheffield, Newark, Sutton, Burke, Wheelock||1059|
|Grand Isle Supervisory Union||$91,765||5 schools serving Alburgh, South Hero, Grand Isle, Isle La Motte, North Hero||683|
|Rutland Central Supervisory Union||$90,000||4 schools serving Proctor, Rutland Town, West Rutland||1065|
|Windsor Northwest Supervisory Union||$89,865||5 schools serving Bethel, Granville, Hancock, Rochester, Stockbridge, Pittsfield||586|
|Rutland Windsor Supervisory Union||$89,038||4 schools serving Ludlow, Mount Holly, Plymouth||444|
|Washington Northeast Supervisory Union||$83,748||2 schools serving Cabot, Plainfield, Marshfield||636|
|Essex Caledonia Supervisory Union||$78,092||4 schools serving Maidstone, Granby, Kirby, Victory, Concord, Waterford, Lunenburg, Guildhall||537|
|Essex North Supervisory Union||$72,000||2 schools serving Canaan, Lemington, Bloomfield, Brunswick, Norton||226|