Jay Chilton | June 15, 2017
In many districts moving to four-day week, superintendent pay has increased
By Jay Chilton, CIJ
To reduce spending, nearly 100 Oklahoma school districts have adopted four-day-a-week schedules. Nearly 50 more districts are considering the change for the next school year, according to a survey conducted by the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration and the Oklahoma State School Boards Association
Of the districts that have implemented the four-day template, 30 increased the pay of superintendents by at least 20 percent for 2016 compared to 2014. Some districts have doubled or even tripled the pay their superintendent received within that time frame, according to a review of salary information published by Oklahoma Watch.
The Grand View district in Cherokee County operates Tuesday through Friday and serves 630 students through eighth grade. In 2014, Grand View’s superintendent earned $62,542. By 2016, the superintendent’s compensation was nearly doubled to $121,623. CIJ contacted Grand View for comment. The district has not responded.
The Oaks-Mission school district serves 298 children. CIJ asked Superintendent John Sheridan why his compensation package had risen from $75,286 in 2014 to $102,749 in 2016 at the same time the schools had switched to a four-day week.
“I really can’t help you,” he said, “and I really don’t have anything else other than the (compensation) data at SDE (State Department of Education). But I appreciate you calling and asking my opinion.” Sheridan immediately hung up the phone.
Granite school district serves 279 students and lists 25 teachers on its website. The district superintendent’s compensation increased 25 percent in two years to more than $99,000. Buffalo Valley school district in Talihina increased its superintendent’s pay by 71 percent from $44,998 to $76,969, an increase of nearly $32,000 in two years. CIJ contacted both districts and neither has responded.
A representative from the Atoka Public School district spoke briefly with CIJ about the issue, saying that she was unaware that the superintendent’s compensation in the district had increased from $104,693 in 2014 to $146,556 in 2016, a 40 percent increase. “That’s new to me,” she said. “I wasn’t aware of that.”
She said the district of 996 students would be returning to a traditional five-day schedule in the coming school year.
Most of the 30 schools with the highest rate increase in superintendent pay are in the eastern half of the state. Three of the districts are in the southwest quadrant of Oklahoma, one is in the central portion of the state, and one district is in the Panhandle.
Not all of the schools which opted for the four-day-a-week schedule increased their superintendent’s compensation. Five of the districts reduced superintendent pay by more than 20 percent. Seven districts reduced superintendent pay between five and nine percent.
Some school district superintendents, especially in small districts, may take on additional duties, like coaching or driving a school bus, for which they can receive additional pay. When a new superintendent is hired partway through the year, that can also affect salary data.
When comparing all the districts currently employing a four-day week, the average change in superintendent compensation for the two years between 2014 and 2016 was an increase of 25.05 percent.
Jay Chilton is a multiple-award-winning photojournalist including the Oklahoma Press Association’s Photo of the Year in 2013. His previous service as an intelligence operative for the U.S. Army, retail and commercial sales director, oil-field operator and entrepreneur in three different countries on two continents and across the U.S. lends a wide experience and context helping him produce well-rounded and complete stories. Jay’s passion is telling stories. He strives to place the reader in the seat, at the event, or on the sideline allowing the reader to experience an event through his reporting. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma with a minor in photographic arts. Jay and his wife live in Midwest City with three dogs and innumerable koi enjoying frequent visits from their children.