School board approves minimum salary ‘in the range of’ $250K for next superintendent, finalizes hiring timeline

Brenda Dietrich of Ray and Associates is leading the search process for the Shawnee Mission School District's next superintendent.
Brenda Dietrich of Ray and Associates is leading the search process for the Shawnee Mission School District’s next superintendent.

Over the objection of a member who felt the figure hindered the district’s ability to negotiate with its finalists for the position, the Shawnee Mission School Board on Monday approved job description language that sets the minimum salary for the next superintendent at “in the range of $250,000.”

At-large board member Brad Stratton argued that the district would have been better served by publicizing the minimum salary at $235,000, a figure that would have given the board leeway to incentivize potential superintendent hires with additional benefits or salary while still attracting talented up-and-coming administrators to apply for the job.

“I’m really concerned that we lose the ability to negotiate with a candidate if the number is too high,” Stratton told his fellow board members.

But a number of others pointed out that when the position was advertised in 2012 to find a replacement for Gene Johnson, the salary was listed at $250,000.

“I would hate to go backwards,” said SM North area representative Sara Goodburn.

SM South area representative Deb Zila said that $250,000 was comparable to the salaries paid in neighboring districts.

“It’s currently in line with those other districts around us,” she said. “That is the caliber of talent that we want to attract for this job. We don’t want the salary to be a hindrance for them to even consider us.”

According to information presented to the board, Olathe School District Superintendent John Allison, who is in his first year with the district, is being paid $250,000 for the 2017-18 school year, and will be paid $257,500 the following school year. Blue Valley School District Superintendent Todd White was hired at $230,000 for his first full-term year in 2016-17, and will make $236,900 this year. His salary is scheduled to rise to $244,007 for 2018-19.

Even though the district advertised the position for $250,000 in 2012, Superintendent Jim Hinson came on at a base of $217,950, though he received a $25,000 annual tax sheltered annuity contribution in addition to his salary. When he announced his retirement last year, he’d received raises bringing his base salary to $254,280.

The board voted 5-1 to establish “in the range of $250,000” as the salary level that will be published in job notices.

The board also formally approved Ray and Associates’ timeline for hiring the new superintendent. The company will be conducting input sessions and summarizing the feedback it receives from stakeholder groups and district patrons through the end of next month, when it will present a profile on the characteristics of candidates who would be a good fit for Shawnee Mission.

It will post the job notice in a variety of targeted outlets Nov. 1. The deadline for applications will be Dec. 15.

Ray and Associates will present the board with its top candidates in mid-January, with interviews scheduled with the finalists the week of Feb. 4.

The full timeline approved by the board Monday is below (click to enlarge the image):