(03/02/2002)
The Calhoun County Board of Education recently gave Superintendent of Schools Ron Blankenship a two-year contract for $81,000, a $9,000 raise. See list of salaries paid in the area, which shows Blankenship's salary to be the highest in neighboring counties.

Board member Burl Simers said the raise was given based on performance and Blankenship's ability to get grants. Additionally, he said hiring a new person might create problems.

Simers publicly quoted a salary for Wirt County Superintendent Ed Toma at $82,000, which was published by the West Virginia Association of School Boards.

That listing is inaccurate. Superintendent Ed Toma's salary was just raised to $65,000, according to Wirt County administrators. "It was the Association list I had in front of me," said Simers, who openly spoke about the pay raise.

Simers said the average salary for school superintendents in West Virginia, according to the School Board Association, is $75,009. "We have been told before the year is over, the average salary around the state will be between $80,000 and $85,000," he said.

The hiring of chief administrators in the state varies widely, and is negotiated individually with school boards. It is not based on the number of schools or students within a county.

Kanawha Counties superintendent is the state's highest paid at $100,000 with 86 schools and 28,048 students. The super's pro-rated cost per student is $3.57.

Calhoun's superintendent will now be paid $81,000 with five schools and 1289 students. The pro-rated cost per student is $62.84. Calhoun has lost 143 students since school year 1999-2000.

Cabel County's superintendent is paid $80,000 with 32 schools and 12,812 students. The pro-rated cost per student is $6.24.

If the salaries of school administrators was based on school population, most salaries would be reduced because of declining student enrollment.

Many counties have a much bigger administrative staff than found in Calhoun, and some have several Assistant Superintendents. Blankenship has no Assistant Superintendent, and Calhoun staff has been described as "bare bones."


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