Alberta is cutting almost all salaries paid to school superintendents after a review found they were earning too much, and that one unnamed superintendent is having taxpayers help pay for their kids to go to college.
Other perks found in the 74 contracts included a $1,200 annual gym membership, along with benefits ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 for superintendents to essentially spend as they see fit.
One deal includes taxpayers spending $10,000 for the post secondary education of a superintendent’s children. The government won’t name the superintendent, citing contract privacy rules.
Also, 17 of the contracts have retirement allowances or severance payments that include up to a year’s full salary.
Education Minister David Eggen said those benefits will not be allowed in new grid and salary rules.
“Clear limits for superintendent pay will help ensure public funds continue to be put where they can do the most good for Alberta’s students while ensuring boards can continue to recruit top leaders,” Eggen said Friday in a news release.
The changes will only affect new contracts.
Education Department officials did not immediately release the bottom line compensation numbers of the 74 contracts but said the changes will reduce 67 of the 74 deals the next time around. No one is getting a pay hike as a result.
Future contracts under the new grid will pay a minimum of $60,000 to a maximum of $275,000 for the biggest school boards in Edmonton and Calgary.
Eggen announced the review in March following reports of widely varying contracts, including a pending offer of $430,000 to Joan Carr of the Edmonton Catholic School Board.
Eggen had refused to sign off on Carr’s contract pending the review, and any deal Carr signs now will be subject to the salary cap.
Christopher MacPhee, president of the College of Alberta School Superintendents, responded in a news release, but did not address the perks red-flagged in the government review.
“While not all of CASS’ recommendations for a new structure were adopted by the government in this review, our superintendents remain fully dedicated to overseeing and managing the schools where our children thrive,” said MacPhee.
“We will work with the government to ensure the new structure is properly implemented across the province and that our collective energy remains focused on our students.”
He said the group will not be commenting further.
The province says the new rules — which apply to superintendents of the public, separate, Francophone, and charter school boards — bring Alberta in line with provinces such as B.C. and Ontario.
Severance pay now matches that in the Alberta public service, with each full year of continuous service entitling the superintendent to four weeks of base salary up to a maximum of 52 weeks.
The current compensation to superintendents is $14.1 million a year and the changes are expected to save $1.5 million. The government says the money will be plowed back into the education system.