Sunday, April 15, 2018

EDITED OPINION: High LW School District Salaries Burden Our Community

Image result for opinion imagesIn my opinion, the Lake Washington District Central Leadership Team and some administrators  salaries are *too high; the end result our students and educators are impacted by miss-use of  public funds.

The new LWSD Communications and Community Engagement Director of less then two years, is paid a flat $169,285 per year  In my opinion, this is excessive. The Mayor of Redmond's is paid less than $138,000 and he doesn't get summer off. 

From the district's Central Leadership Team Organizational Chart I learned 16 Directors earned $169,285 and 9 Associate Directors earned $153,330...all on a **flat salaries with no low or high ranges.  The director & some administrators' salaries should be on a sliding scale based on performance and experience.  Keep in mind, school business slows or ceases in many departments when school is out ... for example "Communications and Community Engagement"...not much engagement then.

Besides the Mayor's salary, another benchmark:  Redmond's Deputy Administrator, Chief of Police and Chief of Fire are paid the upper range of $165,372 per year with a bonus. Both governments have similar budgets of approximately $600,000,000.

Barbara Postumous, the CFO & Deputy Superintendent is very underpaid. Dr. Jon Holmen, the district's Deputy Superintendent who oversees five Directors should be paid more. Mr. Holman's Directors are  invaluable. They bridge the schools with the Central Central Leadership Team and oversee all the principals. According to School Board member Cassandra Sage Dr. Holmen's Directors are required to be in the schools 2.5 days per week.

Director Matt Gillingham runs "Student and School Support Services."  I first met Matt during Truancy Board training.  Mr. Gillingham is responsible for student safety, social-emotional well-being, mental health recovery, bullying issues and also oversees the athletic department. He should be paid more than a Director.

In sum, the district has too many overpaid chiefs and not enough indians.  Our superintendent is the CEO of the third largest school district in the State and should be very well paid to streamline the Administration and bring efficiencies. In addition, a good superintendent will know the capabilities of his/her workers, their roles and responsibilities to rank to pay them accordingly. School Board member Cassandra Sage indicated today Superintendent Jane Stavem is working towards these ends. 

Paying flat salaries doesn't encourage innovation and reward those who produce.  Low-median-high salary ranges would keep turn-over low to retain valuable workers. 

-- Bob Yoder, opinion, 3/20/19

Sources:  * December 14th, 2018 School Board meeting packet / public record request
                City of Redmond public record request
                Redmond City Television, Comcast 21
                Barbara Posthumous, Assoc. Superintendent


Anonymous said...

Your observations are spot-on. We have way too many high-priced administrators. What are they all doing? No doubt they are busy with meetings and reports, but there's unquestionably overlap in their duties that could be consolidated.

If the school district were run like an actual business, there would be a re-organization and some of these people would be told to find new jobs - either within the district or elsewhere.

The big question is whether all these assistant and associate superintendents translate into a better education for our students? The Stats say no - no better outcome. Test scores for the past 3 years have been flat for 4th graders in reading and math with 1 of every 5 students unable to pass the state tests. (And the 4th grade test is not very difficult to pass.)

The new superintendent will need to downsize all these departments with (gasp) pink slips and layoffs in the administrative ranks. The money being spent on these huge superintendent salaries would be better spent supplementing in-class paraeducators and aids for students who are academically behind or who need additional attention.

Bob Yoder said...

Good points & I'd be interested to know the sources of your performance data. I'll be writing a series of posts on this owing to the transition to a new superintendent. If we paid the Directors, Assoc. Directors, Managers, Coordinators and Specialists 20% less, they'd still get a good salary and the money saved could be pushed down to the school level for our teachers and their needs. Paring down would also help the janitors and other blue collar workers who must commute from outlying areas because the Eastside is no longer affordable.

Anonymous said...

The data for 4th grade math and reading scores was found at:

To find information about school test scores and demographics around the state,
-go to the OSPI website at
-choose "Data & Reports" and then "School Report Card"
-in the "Summary" listbox, choose "Lake Washington School District" or any other school district in the state

The Kitsap Sun Newspaper website has salary data for all school employees:

Anonymous said...

I'm missing salary comparisons to leaders of neighboring school districts. There are comparisons in this piece to other fields, but none of them are education.

John Reinke said...

Thank you for this important discussion!

Anonymous said...

This is excellent work, Robert Yoder!! Public funds are not a gravy train trough that invites a few select persons to dine. In dictatorships, totalitarian states, and places where extremists are in power, there is nothing anyone can do it. Here, in a free country, we the public taxpayors can examine salaries in a fair way and taxpayors can lobby to decide if salaries are fair and commensurate with service given. There is another item that bothers me about salaries in LWSD, and that is the Assistant superintendent gave her husband a 30K raise last year, which I think it's illegal that he's working for her in the first place.