BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Size may not always matter, but it does when paychecks are theissue.
Western New York's biggest school districts tend to pay thehighest salaries to administrators and teachers, according to aBusiness First analysis of budgets throughout the eight-countyregion.
Buffalo's James Williams and Williamsville's Howard Smith arethe only school superintendents to earn more than $200,000 peryear. They also oversee the only districts with enrollments inexcess of 10,000 students.
Ten Western New York school systems have more than 5,000students each. Their superintendents are paid $173,680 onaverage, which is 32 percent above the comparable figure forsuperintendents of the 88 smaller districts, $131,170.
Niagara Falls and Williamsville, both among the region's fivebiggest school systems, offer the highest starting salaries forclassroom teachers. Pay scales begin around $42,000 in thosetwo districts.
Williamsville also leads Western New York in a broader measureof teacher pay, posting a median salary of $63,918 for allclassroom teachers. (A median is a midpoint, with half of allteachers being paid more, and half being paid less.)
Business First based its study on salary data compiled by theNew York State Education Department, which annually collectspayroll statistics for administrators and teachers. Figures comefrom the 2008-2009 academic year for the former group, 2007-2008for the latter. Both databases were the latest available atpresstime.
Full details will be available in Business First's 2009-10 Guideto Western New York Schools, which hits newsstands Friday.Highlights are also available at the newspaper's website:buffalo.bizjournals.com.
Districts are required to provide the Education Department withsalary breakdowns for superintendents and all other administratorswho are paid at least $100,000 per year. But there's a catch: Thedepartment asks only for the title of each position and its paylevel, not the name of the person who holds the job.
It's not difficult, however, to link names and salaries at thetop of the scale, since the biggest paychecks go to superintendentswho run high-profile districts or have extensive seniority -- orboth:
Williams, who is paid $220,000 per year, has run Buffalo'spublic schools since 2005.
Smith, with a salary of $206,500, has been in charge ofWilliamsville's system since 2004.
Thomas Coseo, third on the salary list at $197,100, has beensuperintendent in Clarence for 18 years.
A total of 247 Western New York school administrators are paid$100,000 or more. Ninety-five of the region's 98 superintendentsbelong to this six-figure club, as do 152 other officials withtitles ranging from associate superintendent to principal, and fromchief academic officer to director of personnel.
Size is once again a key determinant. The Buffalo City SchoolDistrict employs 47 administrators who earn at least $100,000 ayear -- nearly one-fifth of the regional total of 247.
The runners-up are Niagara Falls (with 20 salaries in sixfigures), Williamsville (12), Frontier (eight) andKenmore-Tonawanda (seven).
All five of these districts have at least 5,300 pupils. Theircollective enrollment is 65,200, accounting for nearly 30 percentof all students attending public schools in Western New York.
Wyoming ($92,232), West Valley ($93,964) and Belfast ($94,099)are the only districts whose superintendents fall short of the$100,000 threshold. The largest of these school systems is Belfast,with 395 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Thecollective enrollment in the three districts is 944 pupils.
Business First analyzed salaries at three key points in eachteacher's career -- start, midpoint and peak of earning power -- asreflected by percentile data collected by the EducationDepartment.
Percentiles indicate where a given teacher's paycheck rankswithin a single district. A salary in the fifth percentile, forexample, is bigger than 5 percent -- and smaller than 95 percent --of all teachers' salaries in that specific district.
The fifth percentile, the lowest reported by the EducationDepartment, represents salaries earned by teachers at the bottom ofthe pay scale, generally those with fewer than five years ofexperience. Business First used the fifth percentile as a measureof starting pay. The 50th and 95th percentiles, respectively, showmedian and peak pay levels.
The norms for all Western New York teachers, according to theEducation Department, are $35,569 at the start, $52,200 at themidpoint and $83,965 at the peak of their careers. But there aresubstantial deviations from district to district:
Wages for beginning teachers tend to be higher in Niagara Fallsthan anywhere else in the region.
The Niagara Falls City School District has a fifth percentilesalary of
$42,265 for its classroom teachers, leading all Western NewYork school systems. Williamsville is close behind with a low-endsalary of $42,059.
Seven other districts have pay scales that surpass $40,000 fortheir youngest teachers: Fredonia, Niagara-Wheatfield, NorthTonawanda, Lewiston-Porter, West Seneca, Grand Island andEllicottville.
At the bottom is West Valley, where the fifth percentile salaryis $25,140.
The median pay for all 800 classroom teachers in theWilliamsville Central School District is $63,918, which is nearly$2,000 higher than any other district in the region. Three othersystems have median (or 50th percentile) salaries higher than$60,000: North Tonawanda, Grand Island and Sweet Home.
Warsaw is at the bottom, paying its classroom teachers a mediansalary of $40,953.
Grand Island offers the steepest peak for teachers, with a 95thpercentile salary of $91,390. The only other district above $90,000is Sweet Home at $90,893.
Rounding out the top five are Depew, Cheektowaga-Maryvale andAlden, all with peak salaries above $87,000. Paychecks at thisexalted level are reserved for the most experienced teachers,generally those with at least 30 years in the classroom.
The tiniest summit is in Wyoming, which also has the smallestenrollment of any Western New York school district, 163 students.Peak pay for Wyoming's teachers is $60,434, almost $3,500 below thecareer midpoint in Williamsville.
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