Napa Valley Updates

Monday, August 17, 2009

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“You get what you pay for...”

An old adage but a true one.

Here are a few comparative Districts to St. Helena and what they are paying their top execs.

St. Helena K12 ADA 1333 $189,000
Carmel Unified K12 ADA 1995 $188,400
Del Mar K-8 ADA 3925 $168,000 to 188,000
Mill Valley K-8 ADA 2320 $199,506
Tamalpais 9-12 ADA 3676 $185,000
Dixie K-8 ADA 1696 $190,040
Piedmont K12 ADA ? $178,117
Kentfield K-8 ADA 961 $160,000

In private business the CEO’s compensation is set by the Board of Directors. Their concerns are getting the right executive in the right place and staying a step ahead of the competition.

The privacy of private businesses has allowed these salaries to rise sometimes to mind boggling levels as the air gets more rarified and the competition stiffer for the few talented ones who can truly lead a great company into the future. The only determinate is the profitable success of the business.

Public governmental agencies have always been hampered by the perception of the general population that CEOs are paid too much, a judgment usually based on comparison with their own wages, and fueled by a lack of knowledge of the competition for the position, or the demands of the position itself.

The talent pool for any specific job still operates as free enterprise. In other words the best people (brain power and experience) go to the highest bidder. And this brain power and experience is not interchangeable. An employer cannot simply will an employee to have the talent, attitude, experience and vision he needs at any price he wants. An employer must always be aware of what his competition is paying for the best people.

And it is PEOPLE that make any company, any agency, any school work. And it is the people at all levels, not just the teachers, but also staff and administrators.

So if you want to be the best, and there is no reason St. Helena should not strive for that goal, you have to hire the best.

This puts us in a competitive bracket not by size of student body, or number of programs, but by sophistication of the community, the pride of the community in its schools, the belief of parents in education and of course, the wealth of the District.

This puts little St. Helena in a rarified atmosphere when pursuing personnel.
Additionally it must be noted as the boomers retire, the shortage of professionals with experience and wisdom will cause a great deficit in both the educational and medical fields. The competition for top brain power will transcend the private/governmental split and schools may have to be competitive with private business to find any administrative talent at all. It is not the case that a business or a school district can simply post a position and be bowled over with top quality candidates.

If these schools are examples of the competition St. Helena has for top personnel, in order to build and maintain a very high functioning school district for ALL our children, then this would indicate that St. Helena’s salary range is competitive.
Another measuring stick is the teacher union’s rule of thumb. The unions watch executive salaries closely, since dollars going to administrators are not going to teachers. The rule of thumb for a Superintendent is twice the top teacher salary bracket. In St. Helena’s case this would make the appropriate Superintendent salary $206K.