School district personnel top the list of highest paid town employees, dominating the top 10 and placing 25 among the top 30, according to gross salary data from last fiscal year.
In some ways the data detailing gross salaries for employees during the 2009-10 year, provided to Newtown Patch at its request, is not that surprising, education officials said
School expenditures comprise about 65-percent of the town's overall budget and district employees outnumber those on the town side by five to one, according to the data, which includes part-time workers and those who were hired or who left in the middle of the year.
"Since we have five times as many employees as the town, that's exactly the ratio we could expect," Board of Education Chairman Bill Hart said.
Six teachers placed in the top 30 highest earners, with all of them possessing many years of experience and additional duties, such as coaching or heading up a department.
Athletic director, Gregg Simon, who is no. 27 on the list, said he also receives an additional stipend for working in the summer.
"The town has certainly been fair to me," he said. "I'm proud of what I do."
Under the teacher contract negotiated for the upcoming school year, the minimum base salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree is $43,934 – though nearly all teachers in the district now have a master's degree – and the maximum for someone with an advanced degree and 30 years of experience is $88,315.
The terms of the contract and level of compensation is in line with other districts with similar socio-economic characteristics, officials said.
Many Newtown teachers make more than the base salary because they take on additional duties, such as coaching, participating in afterschool events and managing other teachers as a department head, officials said.
"Some of those people work pretty hard to get to where they are," said Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson, who ranks at the top of the list with a gross salary of $166,600, not including other compensation.
She and Assistant Superintendent Linda Gejda, who places no. 3 behind Newtown High School Principal Chip Dumais, both receive additional compensation, such as annuities, that don't appear in their gross salaries. That practice of paying top administrators annuities is common throughout the state, officials said.
One prominent person missing from the top 30 is First Selectman Pat Llodra, who was elected into office in November, and so only earned $57,000 during the fiscal year, placing her at no. 465 in the list of top salaries. Even if she had earned her full year's salary of $97,000, she would have come in at no. 34, slightly more than a police lieutenant but less than a high school foreign language teacher.
Although Llodra possesses advanced degrees and a wealth of experience, the position she was elected into has no such requirements, noted Robinson. Llodra said she was satisfied with her pay, but that before she leaves office she would like the town to take another look at the salary because it might discourage quality first selectman candidates from running for the office.
"That level of compensation is going to have to be examined," she said. "They can't depend on having someone who is going to show up all the time that doesn't have the compensation."
Salaries across the state usually place the top elected official behind educators and police officers working overtime and on so-called side jobs overseeing road and other construction projects, according to Kevin Maloney, a spokesman with the New Haven-based Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.
"The chief elected official is never anywhere near the top," he said, adding that police officers and public safety positions often have education requirements as well. "Those are always going to line up at a higher cost than say the chief elected official on the town hall side."
Side job earnings, which are included in gross salary calculations, are privately paid for by businesses that ask for an officer to be present, and not through taxpayer money.
Only one police officer, Steven Santucci, made it to the top list at no. 21 with a gross salary of $107,748, about $4,000 more than Police Chief Michael Kehoe, who is no. 26.
Rounding out the list of top 30 earners from the town side are Bob Tait, the town's finance director, who at $125,000 is no. 11, Ronald Bolmer, the town's engineer who is no. 19, and Fred Hurley who is no. 28.