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Pay for superintendent

by Connor Raborn reporter@hammondstar.com

Approximately $152,000 per year base salary advertised for the position of superintendent is what school board members passed Monday.

The superintendent search committee of Tangipahoa Parish school board members voted 5-3 in favor of the $152,000 "range" plus benefits, which was put forth as a substitute motion by board member Andy Anderson and seconded by Rose Dominguez. Anderson said this "range" is roughly the state average for superintendent base salary.

Anderson's substitute motion came moments after the original motion by board member Walter Daniels, who suggested a $175,000 per year base salary plus benefits. Whitlow seconded Daniels' motion.

Daniels said starting the base higher would make the parish more competitive in obtaining and keeping interest in the position.

Board member Betty Robinson also advocated for a higher base.

"We're looking for someone who can really bring the system out. I think the salary should be in that upper range," she said.

Anderson countered that the parish's teachers' salary is around the state average, meaning that of the superintendent should be too.

"We have to live within our means," Dominguez said. "Our constituents have beaten us up about the salary Mr. Kolwe's getting."

Current superintendent Mark Kolwe's base salary is $157,000 per year.

Tangipahoa Parish does not have the tax millages to support a higher superintendent salary, she said.

Board member Tom Tolar put forward the idea that the group should pass the salary as a "range" so the specific salary can be negotiated later along with benefits, once the committee knows its pool of candidates. Based on the candidates' qualifications, the salary could go up or down 5 percent.

Anderson, Domiano, Dominguez, Tolar and board vice president Sandra Simmons voted yes on the motion; Daniels, Robinson and Whilow voted no. Member Brett Duncan had left the meeting earlier on other business before the vote, but Dominguez said he told her before he left that his recommendation was for a $140,000-a-year salary to be advertised.

Also a point of discussion was the timeline to set stakeholder meetings throughout the parish.

These meetings would invite constituents, civic organizations and communities to gather with two of the consultants from Ray and Associates, the firm advising on the superintendent hire.

Cynthia Jenkins outlined a tentative two-day schedule that would have the consultants split their time among various schools in the northern and middle parts of the parish on March 21 and in the southern end on March 22.

Discussion centered around the possibility of having meeting times early enough to encourage teachers to stay after school long enough to attend but late enough to allow community attendance.

Anderson suggested perhaps having one meeting per board member district while other iterations of the schedule would split the meetings by location and proximity of schools.

It was determined that a schedule was contingent on approval by school administrators based on time and facility availability.

Ultimately, the committee approved a motion for Jenkins and Assistant Superintendent Thomas Bellavia to create a schedule based on their findings of availability.

The committee also passed a list of outlets through which to advertise the position of superintendent and approved the online application for the job.