MT. VERNON – Mt. Vernon Township High School Superintendent Michael Smith’s new annual salary of $161,236 is higher than most administrator salaries in the region.
Even so, school officials stand by their decision to compensate Smith in this manner, considering his job performance and MVTHS’ standing as one of the largest high schools in Southern Illinois.
“We feel like he’s done very well meeting the board goals we’ve set for him,” said Karen Goodwine, vice president of the MVTHS Board of Education.
Smith’s new five-year contract, approved in June, has drawn controversy after former MVTHS Board member Greg Backes cited the document as one of the reasons he chose to resign Monday.
Backes and fellow board member Jon Hawthorne stepped down, citing ethical differences as their primary motivation for doing so. Both have expressed concern about the process by which Smith’s contract was approved.
Smith’s salary was increased by 2.75 percent in the new contract – from $156,921 to $161,236. His salary in 2011-2012 was $152,350. Smith is one of the highest paid superintendents in this region when looking at other school districts of similar size. MVTHS has a student population of 1,311.
The Illinois State Board of Education lists superintendent annual salaries for the 2012 school year. High school districts have a superintendent who is responsible for ninth through 12th grade facilities; unit school district superintendents oversee facilities which include students from kindergarten through 12th grade — with higher student populations and, in many instances, more buildings.
n Carbondale Community High School District 165, which has 1,107 students, paid its superintendent $135,000;
n Marion Community Unit School District 2, which has a district student population of 4,007, paid its superintendent $112,211;
n Harrisburg Community Unit School District 3, which has a district student population of 2,178, paid its superintendent $112,746;
n Collinsville Community Unit School District 10, which has a unit student population of 6,645, paid its superintendent $149,006;
n Hamilton County Community Unit School District 10, which has a unit population of 1,188, paid its superintendent $127,865; and
n Benton Consolidated High School, which has 581 students, paid its superintendent $130,631.
There are some larger districts in Southern Illinois with higher superintendent salaries:
n O’Fallon Township High School District 203, which has a student population of 2,508, paid its superintendent $175,000;
n Edwardsville Community Unit School District 7, which has a district population of 7,480, paid its superintendent $164,185; and
n Herrin Community Unit School District 4, which has 2,528 students, paid its superintendent $177,576.
Two smaller districts in Jefferson County, Waltonville and Woodlawn, paid superintendents $84,000 and $101,666 respectively in 2012. District 80 grade school paid its superintendent $106,709.
Smith said a number of factors go into determining a superintendent’s salary, including the size and type of the district, years of experience, level of education and level of success. Smith has 28 years of experience and a Ph.D.
“There’s a whole lot that plays into it,” Smith said.
MVTHS Board President Carl Miller said it’s reasonable to compensate superintendents more in larger districts because those districts have more students, more teachers, and more responsibility for the administrator.
Ron Daniels, Jefferson-Hamilton Counties Regional Superintendent of Schools, said much like CEOs in the private sector, superintendents for larger school districts tend to get paid higher salaries.
This can be because the superintendent has more responsibilities or because the district has the capital funds to compensate them at that level, Daniels said.
“Typically, the larger districts are going to be able to pay a larger salary,” Daniels said.