Comparing compensation: Raise for Canyons superintendent outpaces other district chiefs
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Earlier this month the Canyons Board of Education got the attention of the Utah education community by granting a $10,000 raise and a $25,000 bonus to its superintendent.
The board also put in place an annual 10 percent salary increase if the superintendent meets certain benchmarks.
The raise — 5.7 percent over David Doty's prior $175,000 base salary — was intended to bring Doty's pay in line with his peer superintendents at Utah's largest school districts, according to district spokesman Jeff Haney. The bonus, Haney said, was reflective of Doty's not having received a pay increase during his first three academic years as superintendent.
But a further examination of Doty's compensation package and a comparison with other similar districts reveals that Doty was already among the highest-paid superintendents in the state. It also reveals a wide gap between the percent increase given to Doty and that given to teachers, despite years of budget cuts in the district.
Haney said Doty's compensation prior to the raise was approximately $255,000 — $80,000 more than his base salary. That total is more than the compensation of Salt Lake City, Jordan and Granite school districts' superintendents as well as the pay for State Superintendent Larry Shumway, who receives $251,103, according to the most recent data on the state's transparency website.
Assuming no change to his benefits package, and including the $25,000 bonus, Doty will receive approximately $290,000 for the 2012-13 academic year.
The size of Doty's raise in relation to his salary has also raised eyebrows. Combined with his one-time $25,000 bonus for "exemplary performance," Doty will see a 13.7 percent gain over his total compensation package last year, or a 20 percent increase from his prior base salary. His renewed contract also calls for an ongoing annual raise of up to 10 percent if certain budget and academic goals are met.
Next year, teachers in Canyons School District will receive a 1 percent cost of living increase and a 2 percent one-time bonus.
That differs from other school districts where superintendent salary increases have been proportionally equal to raises given to teachers and district staff.
• Granite School District Superintendent Martin Bates will receive a base salary of $197,576 as of July 1. That figure is a 2.39 percent increase over his previous salary, which coincides with a 2.39 percent raise for Granite school teachers, district spokesman Ben Horsley said.
Bates has the same benefits package as other district employees, which brings his total compensation to approximately $230,000 per year, according to Horsley.
• The Alpine School Board approved a new contract and pay increase for Superintendent Vern Henshaw on Tuesday. Henshaw will begin his 13th year as superintendent over the state's largest school district with a 2 percent raise, bringing his base salary to $211,335 and total compensation to $282,334, according to district spokeswoman Rhonda Bromley.
In addition to funding scheduled salary increases — commonly known as steps and lanes — the school board is considering a one-time 2 percent bonus for Alpine teachers, Bromley said. For some teachers, their pay raise and bonus will amount to 4 percent to 5 percent more money next year, a proportionally larger increase than their district boss.
"Many of them will get a pretty good bump," she said.
• Salt Lake City School District Superintendent McKell Withers' last raise was a 2 percent increase in 2008. He receives a base salary of $178,873 and total compensation of $204,193, according to district spokesman Jason Olsen. Teachers during that same period have not received a cost of living increase, but steps and lane increases have continued to be funded each year, Wasatch UniServ executive director Elaine Tzourtzouklis said.
• Jordan, Canyons neighboring district, pays superintendent Patrice Johnson the same base salary as Doty — $185,000. She does not receive a bonus and the benefits package is $20,000 less than the Canyons superintendent.
• On the state level, Leslie Castle, a member of the State Board of Education, said the only pay increases Shumway has received since being named state superintendent in 2009 have been cost of living increases approved for public employees by the state Legislature. He makes a base salary of $158,156 and total compensation of $251,103.
The Deseret News has repeatedly attempted to contact Doty to discuss his management style and, most recently, his compensation package. He has refused through his representatives to make himself available to answer questions.
Ross Rogers, an elementary education technology specialist and president of the Canyons Education Association, said the association does not comment on superintendent salaries, but said he has received phone calls from teachers expressing concern over Doty's raise.
"That is between the school board and the superintendent," Rogers said. "If (teachers) have an issue, they should take it up with the school board."
Some teachers and administrators said they fear retribution if they speak out, part of the ongoing controversy in the district that erupted earlier this year. A petition calling for an investigation into Doty's managerial style was recently presented to the school board with more than 1,000 signatures.
Board member Kevin Cromar referred to the criticism by the district employees during the meeting to announce Doty's raise and bonus, and said the allegations were not enough to warrant not renewing Doty's contract.
"I have serious concerns about the professional treatment of our employees," Cromar said. "I still have concerns and we'll look for improvement in the area of interpersonal conduct." The board has not taken any action on the petition.
Since 2011, the Canyons School District has seen budget cuts of more than $15 million, according to documents provided by business administrator Keith Bradford. Those cuts have been managed without layoffs, Bradford said, by allowing vacated positions to remain unfilled, reducing administrative travel, eliminating professional development days and, in 2011, mandating five furlough days for all district staff.
"Luckily, we've been able to do that without affecting class sizes," Bradford said.
Canyons School Board President Tracy Cowdell did not respond to requests for comment. In an email, board member Kim Horiuchi declined to comment on the size of Doty's raise or why he was given a bonus, but expressed appreciation for Doty's accomplishments as superintendent since the district's creation.
"I, for one, am proud to have Dr. Doty at the helm of the Canyons district team," Horiuchi said. "He has my full and unequivocal support."
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