Next schools superintendent would make at least $180,000

January 24, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE |

WASHINGTON COUNTY — The next Washington County Schools Superintendent would make at least $180,000 a year, must be willing to relocate to Washington County and would have at least three years of senior/executive level experience, according to a brochure for job applicants.

Several Board of Education members said Monday they set the minimum salary at $180,000 to be competitive and get the attention of well-qualified candidates.

Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan retires from the school system Feb. 28, and the school board wants to fill her position by June 30.

The school board has bought advertising through Education Week and its websites, and for $2,424 that includes a print ad and 30 days of online postings that should start with the Feb. 2 issue, according to school system spokesman Richard Wright.

The job also will be advertised through Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE), the American Association of School Administrators, an association for Maryland public school superintendents and a mailing to Maryland superintendents, according to Wright and William Middleton, lead consultant in the search for a new superintendent.

The search budget is $50,000, but board members expect to spend about $30,000 on the search, Wright wrote in an e-mail. The board hired MABE consultants to help with the search for a cost of about $18,000.

Several board members said they settled on a minimum salary of $180,000 after researching the salaries of other Maryland superintendents, including ones in similar sized-school districts.

With the tough economy, Morgan’s base pay was frozen at $182,905, with the four-year contract that took effect July 1, 2010.

A 2010-11 Maryland State Department of Education salary schedule report erroneously lists Morgan’s salary at $195,000. But, using either figure, the position’s salary ranks around the middle of the pack among Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City.

A sheet of discussion points submitted to the search consultants from local business leaders stated any advertised salary or benefit ranges shouldn’t “limit the candidate pool by establishing below-market salary scales.” Salary details should take place after candidates are found, not before, business leaders encouraged.

Brien Poffenberger, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, said business leaders wanted to avoid having the salary scaled back to that of a teacher or principal, which some community members had called for through the media. While business leaders understand that impulse, the market is the market and you get what you pay for, Poffenberger said.

Ridenour said $180,000 is “pretty much in line with what we’re seeing around the state.”

He said he didn’t want potential candidates to not apply because they could continue to make more money as deputy superintendents in other school systems.

The ad for Education Week and the brochure state the school board is looking for a visionary leader, a strategic thinker and a leader with experience in addressing the needs of growing, diverse student populations.

The brochure for superintendent candidates also states a strong preference for candidates with a doctorate.

Ridenour said the board would like candidates to address whether they would relocate to Washington County. If someone has a home just on the other side of the Frederick County, Md., line, board officials would discuss whether the candidate has to move, he said.

Morgan didn’t have to move from Middletown, Md., but she did move to Washington County, he said.

The application reviews begin Feb. 28, according to the ad and brochure.

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