School adminstrator salaries in the Whitefish Bay School District seem to be higher than those in other North Shore school districts, according to data compiled by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
The DPI website lists salary information from all public school administrators during the 2011-12 school year. The database, shown above, will allow you to search administrative salaries across 424 Wisconsin school districts. Using the database widget, here is a brief sampling of how Whitefish Bay's public school salaries compare to neighboring districts:
Whitefish Bay Superintendent Mary Gavigan, with 35 years of experience, earned a salary of $168,000 and $29,326 in fringe benefits.
By comparison, Elmbrook Superintendent Matt Gibson, with 40 years of experience, earned a salary of $158,368 and $45,786 in fringe benefits in 2011-12, his last before retirement. Mequon-Thiensville Superintendent Demond Means made $145,860 with $27,000 in fringe benefits.
Shorewood Superintendent Blane McCann, who retired last year with 31 years of experience, was paid $152,250 and $38,327 in fringe benefits. McCann was replaced by Martin Lexmond, who earns a salary of $150,000 and whose fringe benefit costs are not yet posted on the DPI website.
Mark Kapocius, Whitefish Bay School District's director of human resources, said the School Board decided to set the salary bar high in its superintendent search in 2010 to attract an experienced candidate currently serving as a superintendent.
The previous superintendent, Jim Rickabaugh, was one of the highest-paid Milwaukee-area suburban superintendents. The board's salary parameters also reflected an interest in attracting experienced candidates throughout the country. In Chicago and the Twin Cities, superintendents earn considerably more than Milwaukee-area superintendents, Kapocius said.
In all administrator hires, Kapocius said salary parameters are based on the market factors and internal and external comparables. When a candidate is identified, there is discussion about where to place that individual within the salary parameters.
"We will look at the candidate's experience, the candidate's current salary, and alignment of the salary with our internal salary structure," Kapocius said via email. "Ultimately, we identify a salary that is agreeable to both sides and present the contract to the board."
High school principals
Whitefish Bay High School Principal William Henkle, who has 32 years of experience in education, earned a salary of $132,374 and $38,294 in fringe benefits.
By comparison, Homestead Principal Brett Bowers, who has seven years of experience, earned a salary of $124,000 and $35,785 in fringe benefits. Shorewood High School Principal Matthew Joynt earned a salary of $105,598 with $35,114 in fringe benefits.
With 23 years of experience, 18 of which have been in the Whitefish Bay School District, Business Manager Shawn Yde earned a salary of $131,796 with $38,224 in fringe benefits.
By comparison, Mequon-Thiensville Business Manager Gail Grieger made $121,380 with $25,665 in fringe benefits. Shorewood Business Manager Mark Boehlke made $104,550 with $34,828 in fringe benefits.
Larger financial picture
Although administrator salaries tend to be higher in Whitefish Bay, administrators and teachers both saw their salaries freeze for the second year in a row.
Unlike other school districts that suffered budget woes, Whitefish Bay cut taxes for the second year in a row without cutting its staff. After receiving more state aid than anticipated this year, the district's levy dropped 0.2 percent, amounting to a $12 decrease in taxes for the owner of a $400,000 home. Last year, the school taxes on that home were $94 lower than the previous year.
School districts across the state saw a larger than usual cut in staffing in the 2011-12 school year than in year's past, according to a press release from the DPI, with 2,312 positions being eliminated and 60 percent of those spots being teacher jobs.
"The 2011-13 state budget made historically high cuts to education funding," the press release said. "General school aids were cut by $749 million and the per pupil revenue limit was reduced by $1.6 billion from prior law. These large reductions accelerated the budget and staffing cuts many districts have been making over the years."