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School board superintendents salaries under review

Rocky View Schools’ superintendent Greg Luterbach will have to provide a statement of his wages, along with the rest of Alberta school superintendents, after an announcement from Education Minister David Eggen.

Rocky View Schools’ superintendent Greg Luterbach will have to provide a statement of his wages, along with the rest of Alberta school superintendents, after an announcement from Education Minister David Eggen.

On Monday, Eggen called for all superintendents in the province to provide a copy of their contracts by Friday, March 16, which will be subject to a review.

“Albertans expect that public funds provided to school boards will be directed to support student success in the classroom, and that all public servants and educational system employees – from the newly-hired educational assistant to the long-tenured superintendent – will be compensated fairly and appropriately,” read the minister’s letter to Alberta school districts.

This comes off the back of a report by the Alberta School Board Association (ASBA) last month that stated Alberta superintendents salaries have significantly risen in the last five years, while in the same time frame, the average provincial salary declined.

Luterbach made $233,344 in the 2016-17 school year, with an added $39,777 in benefits.

According to the Alberta government, the average base salary for superintendents in the province is approximately $208,000, while the median salary is closer to $203,000. However, these numbers do not include any extra benefits, perks, or other bonuses.

Salaries for Albertan superintendents are also significantly higher than those of Ontario, Saskatchewan and B.C., the report states.

Superintendent contracts are negotiated between the hired individual and a district’s board of trustees. The minister then approves it.

While tenure can only be held for a maximum of five years, the province only signs off on the contract in the first year the superintendent is hired. Later adjustments to increase or decrease the salary and benefits are made by the board.

Eggen is not signing any more superintendent contracts until the review is complete.

Though the province is not currently proposing cuts to salaries or potential capping, Barry Lutin, executive director of the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS), said if money was cut from a superintendent’s salary, it would remain within the districts funds.

“Let’s say a superintendent is making $180,000 in salary. Assume for a moment someone decides that is too much, therefore they’re going to reduce the salary by 10 per cent. What that means is the school district will now have $18,000 extra.”

Lutin said reducing the salary would not be significant in a school district’s overall budget.

“It’s not as if reducing the salary of the superintendent is going to suddenly allow school boards to buy a new bus or hire 10 new teachers or buy new equipment,” said Lutin. “It’s not as if that decision is going to have a massive impact in terms of having a great more resources.”

Lutin added the report by ASBA, which compared superintendents salaries to their counterparts in B.C., Saskatchewan and Ontario did not recognize that those provinces report to directors, who are the top of the school districts, not superintendents.

Mary Martin, president of ASBA, said the report was a compilation of data to be used as a start in a “complex conversation.”

“(The report) was not in anyway intended to lead boards in one direction or the other. It was really just intended to be a little bit of a conversation starter. It was salary-based only… information that was available in the public arena,” Martin said. “Our kids do exceptionally well and it’s in no small part due to the individuals leading these organizations and that would be your locally elected boards and also the chief superintendent who they hire.”

All superintendents from January 2013 to present of the 61 public and Francophone school districts in the province are required to submit their contracts to the minister, authorized under Section 77(1) of the School Act.