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School district administrators’ salaries increasing dramatically, official documents show

September 22, 2015

Over the last 15 years, the total compensation of three Wenatchee School District administrators has increased dramatically, with one doubling, according to official documents.

Despite contending that teacher’s union demands would put the WSD in a position of financial insolvency, district administrators and principals have received more compensation on average over the last four years than teaching staff, according to data collected by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

Superintendent Brian Flones
Superintendent Brian Flones

WSD Director’s Secretary for State and Federal Programs Vicki Martz compiled a document containing the salaries of 11 district administrator salaries and insurance compensations, beginning with the 1999-2000 school year. In the 2014-15 school year Superintendent Brian Flones received $254,179 total compensation including base salary, insurance, and “mandatory benefits,” twice as much as his total compensation of $126,703 in the 1999-2000 school year.

According to a table provided by the Council of State Governments, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee received an annual salary of $166,891 in 2013.

“When I created this spreadsheet, seeing how much money administrators are taking home… I think the school district has created their own corporate mentality. They are the one percenters and we are everyone else,” Martz said. “It’s created a huge chasm in the whole school district.”

Deputy Superintendent Jon DeJong received a 67.7 percent compensation increase between the 2002-03 and 2014-15 school years, according to data provided by OSPI. During the same period, Central Financial Officer Les Vandervort received an 86.8 percent increase in compensation, and Flones received a compensation increase of 101 percent between the 1999-00 and 2014-15 school years.

I think the school district has created their own corporate mentality. They are the one percenters and we are everyone else.

— Vicki Martz, Director's Secretary for State and Federal Programs

“There’s no equity. It follows the business model which is somewhat contrary to education because when we take a look at the success of students and their ability to perform and to grow year by year, the individuals that provide that resource for those students is the classroom teacher,” WHS English teacher Neil Zobel said. “If you look at just on the basis of percentage increase, the classroom teacher is not receiving an honorable, respectful response, salary wise, to the growth that’s being performed.”

Vandervort declined to comment. Attempts to contact Flones were unsuccessful.

According to public information compiled by Kitsap Sun newspaper and provided by OSPI, in the 2014-15 school year, Flones received a salary of $203,621 with an insurance compensation of $18,416 and $32,142 in mandatory benefits. In comparison, Moses Lake School District Superintendent Michelle Price received a $163,296 salary in the 2014-15 school year with a $10,494 insurance benefit and $27,043 in mandatory benefits, according to OSPI.

Math teacher Tom Alexander
Math teacher Tom Alexander

The data compiled by the Kitsap Sun showed that Flones has 28 years of certified experience, compared with Price’s 26.

The WSD superintendent contract said mandatory benefits include a travel reimbursement of $700 per month, “to defray the costs incurred in using his automobile for official travel,” The superintendent contract is approved and signed by all five members of the district board.

The school district has spent $13.4 million on 11 different administrators over the last 15 years, according to the Martz calculations.

Over the last four years, starting with the 2011-12 school year, WHS principal compensation, including salary and stipends, has increased approximately 15 percent on the low end of the pay scale, according to the principals/directors contract with the Wenatchee School District. In comparison, the teacher’s contracted agreements with the district shows a 7.5 percent compensation adjustment on the low end of the pay scale over the same period of time.districtaygraphic

The pay scale is a series of salary and benefits increases principals receive every year they work for the district. For example, a WHS principal beginning his career with the district would receive a minimum salary of $106,516 with $3,838 in supplemental contract days. After four years with the district, the principal would receive a $120,949 salary with $4,359 in supplemental contract days, according to the principals/directors contract for the 2014-15 school year.

“With the new contract, the principal’s contract did not ask for any raise in salary unless a raise was given to all,” Director of Student Services Mark Helm said. “At the time that the administrator’s contract was being negotiated, the state hadn’t finished their financial budget yet so we had no idea what was going to happen.”

WHS math teacher Tom Alexander feels the difference in percentage of salary increases is unfair. 

Executive Director of Student Services Mark Helm
Director of Student Services Mark Helm

“You want to attract good people in jobs that have a lot of responsibility and are important, like principal’s jobs, but in my opinion there’s a significant imbalance between what the management is getting and what the ‘worker bees’ are getting,”  Alexander said. “It’s kind of the way our society has gone in the last few years. Upper management makes a lot of money.”

Mediation with the teacher’s union will resume tomorrow.

“I think they both need to be compensated fairly,” Helm said of teachers and principals/administrators. “That’s what we’re trying to do in negotiations, is figure out how to give them what we felt the state should have given them already. We’re working hard to make that happen.”

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  • H

    Hanford Sear Jr.Sep 27, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    … Am so proud of Ms. Martz! Have known her since 1972 at Wasington State Univ. in Pullman, WA. She’s an authentic, good person & always been a professional!

  • A

    April FeatherkileSep 23, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    While the administrators refused to hire more teachers, teachers have told me that 4 positions were created at the administrator level. At over $100,000 each how many teachers could we have hired or paras. Why are they creating positions for folks that should either be retired, demoted or fired. Thank you Apple Leaf for great investigative reporting. The teacher sponsor and his researcher at the WSD should be commended.

    My daughter, a local teacher, came home after the union meeting in tears. She voted to strike but worried about her students and what the community thought about the teachers. I assured her that the community was supportive of the teachers but that the school board and the over paid administrators had a lot of explaining to do.

  • T

    Theresa TerrySep 23, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Great information!
    Needs to be public knowledge.

  • D

    Doug MillerSep 23, 2015 at 10:14 am

    It has been a little more than a decade since I was a school board member and more than 3 decades since graduating from Wenatchee High School. The one thing that remains unchanged over that span of time, is the locally elected board (school board) votes by majority for all compensation provided to every employee (including all those listed in the article). My experience tells me that the board holds the key votes for the school finances and is ultimately accountable to voters within the district, Members should be interviewed, in the future, for more details on compensation decisions for our Wenatchee Public Schools.

  • W

    Wm HigginsSep 23, 2015 at 7:10 am

    Under no circumstances should a superintendent or his administrative staff receive a salary increase unless instructional and ancillary staff do. Under no circumstances should an administrator receive a percentage of salary increase greater than instructional and ancillary staff. To do so, in either case, is tantamount to profiteering, and on the backs of the ‘slaves and captives’ (instructional staff and students). Having served as an administrator and having been a United States Marine, I long ago learned that an approved, caring, and unselfish boss insures the ‘troops’ eat first and they, themselves, eat last. One of my assistant principals reminded me on bosses day many years ago, that BOSS is simply double sob spelled backwards.

  • W

    W RobersonSep 22, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    While reading this article I was reminded of a quote by the Governor of California Jerry Brown during the 1970’s. ” Why in the world are salaries higher for Administrators when the basic mission is teaching.*

    *Reference page 490 of Peter’s Quotations by DR. Laurence J Peter

  • J

    Jake QuilterSep 22, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Great Job! This is a lot of information that has not been shared with the public. There are some other factors to be considered in the numbers presented such as Job title and position change of Mr. DeJong. Over all the numbers don’t lie. There is a serious lack of transparency in the compensation of the Wenatchee School District administration. The worst part is that the District has portrayed the classified and certified unions as causing the financial hardship. Finally, it is the school board of directors that have approved all of these raises over the years. Keep up the good work and keep digging; there is more.