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Don't 'Lock In Too Hard' on Lower Salary For New Superintendent

Legislators offer their own wishlist of qualities for a new superintendent and hear that changes to the appointed school board would hurt the search.

A new superintendent for Baltimore County Schools might not come at a lower salary.

Lawrence Schmidt, president of the county school board, and Alan Leis, a consultant leading the search for a new superintendent, told county legislators  that "a major reset of salary may not occur."

"I tell boards not to lock in too hard on the issue of salary," said Leis. "It really is about finding the right person for the job. I will tell you that given the market and given how hard it is to be a superintendent and how few people there are these days seeking those positions there isn't often a major re-set in the salary. That said, (Joe) Hairston is a highly paid superintendent and very few people would come with that amount of experience."

Hairston earned $303,000 in 2011.

Leis and Schmidt made their comments during an update Friday on the process of hiring a new superintendent. Hairston announced last year that he was leaving the Baltimore County Public Schools system after 12 years in the position.

Leis was in town last week listening to public comment on qualities sought in a new superintendent as well as interviewing teachers, administrators, community leaders and students.

The public can also participate by filling out an online superintendent search survey.

The report from Chicago-based Hazard, Young and Attea is expected by February 7.

Schmidt said the board hopes to hire a new superindent by April so there is "a seemless transition" when Hairston's contract expires on June 30.

Legislators had a wish list of qualities of their own.

Del. Dan Morhaim said he'd like to see a superintendent who is more involved in the classroom and perhaps even continues to teach.

"The actual work is not administrating the actual work is people," said Morhaim.

Others asked for a superintendent that is "sensitive to the needs of a diverse population."

While white students are the largest single demographic block, minority students make up 54 percent of the total school population, Schmidt told legislators.

Still others said they'd like a superintendent that is more approachable—a reference to repeated complaints from legislators and community groups who criticized Hairston for sometimes being aloof to their concerns.

"I think we'd like to see an approachable person," said Sen. Kathy Klausmeier. Someone who feels comfortable talking to parents. Someone who feels confortable talking to legislators, someone who is comfortable talking to business leaders."

"And maybe have a sense of humor," Klausmeier added, saying it wasn't a requirement "but it helps."

Both Leis and Schmidt told legislators that changing the board from an appointed board to an elected or partially-elected board could harm the search process.

"We do not view that as something that is favorable in recruiting a superintendent now," said Schmidt.

"It is the number one question: labor agreements and about the board and what it is to work with the board," said Leis.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Paul Amirault January 23, 2012 at 08:45 PM
"While white students are the largest single demographic block, minority students make up 54 percent of the total school population, Schmidt told legislators." That is an interesting quote that minority students make up 54% of the total school population which means white students make up only 46%? According to the demographics below from the Baltimoe County website: http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/economicdev/gateway/demographics/index.html Total white population in the County is 64%, but white population is only 46% in the schools? Does that mean minorities have that many more children? A lot of interesting data at the Baltimore County website.
Buck Harmon January 23, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Thanks for this one Paul...
Paul Amirault January 23, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Buck, you are welcome. I am not making an editorial comment at all. Just confused about the stats. The stats at the link really are interesting.
K Blue January 23, 2012 at 10:52 PM
It would be very helpful if Leis could provide a public list of superintendent salaries for systems in Maryland comparable in size and years of service for each superintendent on that list, along with their academic credentials.
Buck Harmon January 23, 2012 at 10:59 PM
The many ways that statistics are used to create or add illusion seem to be a key tool in the political grey box...
Paul Amirault January 23, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Even better is the infamous accountant joke who got the job when asked by his prospective employer, "What does 1+1 equal?" after drawing down the window shades, he correctly answered, "What do you want it to be?"
Paul Amirault January 23, 2012 at 11:31 PM
K Blue, best I can do. http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/NR/rdonlyres/CAFE5C56-843C-4D45-8DDB-D7D26146E60F/25636/salsch12.pdf
Paul Amirault January 23, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Now say after me, something smells.
Paul Amirault January 23, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Baltimore County pays more than anybody other county for Dr. hairston and his staff. Curious!?
K Blue January 23, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Paul A., thanks for that link. It lists the superintendent salaries but doesnt give the length of service or their credentials. I think the last hire was Montgomery County. I like their figure. Its almost $100,000 less than Baltimore County's. Also, that chart doesnt show the amount that the new Deputy Superintendent in Baltimore County makes which is around $217,000.
K Blue January 24, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Question: Does anyone know the length of the Deputy Superintendent's contract, the one that was (in my personal opinion) hastily rushed through and approved much to the surprise of the state and local legislators and subsequent to the announcement that 200 teachers were being excessed? I cannot find an answer.
Paul Amirault January 24, 2012 at 12:04 AM
K Blue, it almost doesn't matter, looks like Baltimore County overplays for the likes of a Dr. Hairston. Who appeared to not understand the simple basics of what schools should do.
K Blue January 24, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Paul A., what you are smelling is years of undue deference, lack of oversight, lack of detail, lack of independence from or lack of negotiating skills over the present superintendent OR a majority decision by former boards that Hairston was worth the money they paid to keep him around. It depends on your perspective.
Paul Amirault January 24, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Hoodwinked.
K Blue January 24, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Here's an interesting article from October 2011 discussing how County teachers are among the lowest paid in the state and reinforcing the unusually high salaries for the County's Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent. http://educationviews.org/2011/10/11/baltimore-county-average-teacher-salary-is-lowest-among-large-systems/
Paul Amirault January 24, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Hairston was big on taking care of those around him. The bad sign for a school system is when there are too many administrators and not enough teachers. And when you have budgetary problems, lay off teachers, that has been Hairaton's mods operandi since day one.
Buck Harmon January 24, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Yep...
Buck Harmon January 24, 2012 at 01:17 AM
I'm having a tough time placing the parental responsibility to this equation....
Buck Harmon January 24, 2012 at 01:19 AM
the masses... the apathetic...
Buzz Beeler January 25, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Paul, Buck, it seems that we are not the only country grappling with these issues which have far ranging impacts on our society. http://rt.com/politics/putin-immigration-manifest-article-421/ Here is another article in today's Sun. These issues transcend race and the roots go deep, very deep. http://rt.com/politics/putin-immigration-manifest-article-421/ Watched a great special on the Military Channel regarding the Jewish situation in Germany. In the early stages of that war it was impossible for the Nazis to distinguish between who was and who was not considered to be Jewish. In fact many loyal German Jew's who were patriotic served in the military despite of what was going on. Humane nature is and always be complex as the world turns. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-nigeria-20120123,0,6743343.story

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