The Capital School District Board of Education approved a 5 percent raise for district administrators as a last minute agenda item during the public portion of its Aug. 24 meeting.The Capital School District Board of Education approved a 5 percent raise for district administrators as a last minute agenda item during the public portion of its Aug. 24 meeting.


The Capital School District Board of Education approved a 5 percent raise for district administrators as a last minute agenda item during the public portion of its Aug. 24 meeting.

Capital Board President Phillip Martino Jr. and Superintendent Dr. Michael D. Thomas said the board had been discussing the raises since earlier in the summer in an effort to make Capital more competitive amongst similarly sized districts. Therefore, they did not see the vote, which was not originally listed on the agenda, as a surprise.

But board member Brian Lewis abstained from the vote because his motion to hold off on the vote until September to allow for more research on the matter failed when no one would second the motion.

“My concern was the state of economy we are in right now,” Lewis said. “I felt it was not the right timing. So, I abstained. My colleagues sympathized with the administrators, so it wouldn’t have mattered if I voted no.”

The Capital District Administrators Association had first approached Thomas about a pay increase to make Capital more competitive with similarly sized districts earlier this summer, Thomas said. CDAA examined 2009 salaries across the state and its members did not believe Capital’s scale was competitive enough to attract, recruit and retain good people.

A formal presentation by CDAA was made to the board in July, he said. At the time, the board discussed bringing the item back on the August agenda.

The salary increase was not listed on the original Aug. 24 agenda’s open session because Martino said he had operated under the assumption that this was a personnel matter only to be discussed in executive session, which are closed meetings held to discuss personnel, legal and real estate matters.

However, Capital School District attorney David Williams advised Martino that the matter of administrator raises was not a subject for closed door sessions, Martino said. At that point, the board voted to add the salary increase to the open session.

Top 5 Capital Administrator salaries
1. Superintendent Michael Thomas $154,234
2. Assistant Superintendent Ernestine Huff $118,965
3. Human Resources Manager David Vaughan  $117,549
4. Business Manager Sean Sokolowski  $114,905
5. Dover High School Principal Eugene Montaño $109,928

The board felt it was important to vote on the matter because, among other things, Capital had lost three administrators within the last year, Martino said. Two of those administrators left for more money.

“We didn’t want it hanging out there,” he said. “Are you going to accept a job that’s paying $5,000 less than the job down the road?”

About five years ago, Christina and then Red Clay each got into trouble when they spent more local dollars on salaries than they were collecting and had to borrow money from the state to meet payroll.

That is not the case in Capital, Thomas said. Dover’s school district has a $94.1 million operating budget, and it anticipates having $18 million in reserves when its October report is due to the Delaware Department of Education – one of three throughout the year, Business Manager Sean Sokolowski said. The district anticipates a $13 million carryover at the end of the 2011-2012 school year, he said.

Lewis understands the desire to be competitive. But administrators need to remember how good they’ve got it compared to the average Joe, he said.

“Today people are out there looking for jobs,” Lewis said. “They do a good job. But they should feel blessed to have jobs – especially making $100,000 a year.”