May 5, 2013

School superintendents talk job duties, salaries

PLATTSBURGH — On a typical day, Malone Central School Superintendent Wayne Walbridge reports to work between 5:30 and 6 a.m.

And while he may depart around 4:15 p.m., rarely does that mark the end of his workday. 

School Board meetings and other events held at one of his district’s five school buildings take up a number of his evenings.

Still, Walbridge, who has served as a district leader for 15 years, feels the biggest public misconception about public-school superintendents is that they have little to do and, as a result, don’t have to work hard for their six-figure salaries.

“I sense that, at times, some people from the public merely view us as figureheads of a school system that function in a ‘hands-off’ mode,” said the superintendent, who received annual compensation of $156,140 in 2011-12. 

“This is not the reality.”


District leaders work an average of 55 to 65 hours a week, according to Plattsburgh City School Superintendent James “Jake” Short.

Though, he noted, they are “never truly off duty.”

“A superintendent of schools is always on the job, whether you are at school, in the community or at home,” Walbridge said. “You serve the public at their wishes if they approach you on a school-related matter in a respectful manner.”

Just some of the contractual responsibilities Walbridge and other district leaders shoulder include overseeing district administrators and non-instructional and instructional personnel; recommending to the School Board the appointment or termination of district employees; keeping the board informed of all matters related to curriculum, assessment, instruction and personnel; and authorizing all budget transfers.

“Many times, superintendents are compared to business executives, since we oversee multi-million-dollar operations,” said Short, who has served as a school superintendent for 14 years and received annual compensation of $175,382 in 2011-12.

“Yet, unlike private business executives, superintendents are not expected to produce a profit ... but they are expected to lead under much more complex circumstances and with more public scrutiny than found in most businesses.”

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