The departing superintendent of Manitoba’s largest school division earned more money than Winnipeg’s mayor or police chief last year.

Pauline Clarke, chief executive officer of the Winnipeg School Division, received a $50,000 raise last year, further cementing her status as one of the highest-paid leaders in the province.

In 2022, Clarke made $323,157 — an 18 per cent increase from her 2021 salary of $273,519.

Union leader Luis Tome pointed out the overwhelming majority of educational assistants and support staff in WSD do not make the equivalent of the 2022 salary increase in and of itself on any given school year.

The president of the Winnipeg Association of Non-Teaching Employees said many of his members will have questions about their leader’s high wage and how it came to be.

“Let’s just say that it leaves many of them scratching their heads and frustrated, (given all the cuts in recent years). The money, like in any publicly funded organization, doesn’t always flow to where it needs to,” Tome said.

Division spokeswoman Radean Carter indicated the superintendent’s 2022 salary reflects a one-time payment that covered four years of retroactive pay and the application of negotiated increases that were approved last year.

“No wage increases were realized from 2017 to 2021 due to proposed wage-freeze legislation,” Carter said in an email.

As part of its deficit-cutting plan, the Progressive Conservatives tabled a bill in 2017 to request new public-sector contracts start with a two-year wage freeze, followed by annual hikes of 0.75 and one per cent.

The Public Services Sustainability Act — which was passed by the legislature, but never proclaimed into law — sparked a years-long legal battle with unions.

Premier Heather Stefanson scrapped the controversial bill, introduced under her predecessor, shortly after she was named party leader in the wake of Brian Pallister’s 2021 resignation. It was then that traditional bargaining talks resumed across the public sector.

In March 2022, WSD’s board of trustees approved negotiated senior administration salary increases of 1.6, 1.4, 0.5 and 3.3 per cent, a cost of living adjustment based on 2021 figures.

The backpay allotment aside, Clarke’s gross salary for 2022 is $282,398.

“It’s a lot of money and you have to put it in context. The average Manitoban makes about $60,000 a year,” said Gage Haubrich, Prairie director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

While acknowledging an education leader has “a really important job,” Haubrich noted the premier took home about $200,000 to oversee a province that has roughly 1.3 million residents.

WSD’s top leader is in charge of operating 79 central schools and the education of almost 30,000 students enrolled in them.

Last year, Clarke made about $10.80 per student in her division, which is on the lower end of metro superintendent salaries when the latest enrolment counts are taken into account.

Trustees are currently hiring to replace the longtime CEO, who announced plans to retire in 2023 earlier this year.

Newly released salary disclosure reports show superintendents in neighbouring districts earned, on a per capita basis, between $14.50 in River East Transcona — notably, two people served in that role due to a retirement in 2022 — and $18.06 in Seven Oaks last year.

The Division scolaire franco-manitobaine’s directeur général, Alain Laberge, earned $225,182 or $38.17 per capita in the francophone district, the only one of its kind that spans the entire province.

Louis Riel leader Christian Michalik’s salary totalled $253,010 or $15.52 per capita. In Seven Oaks, top boss Brian O’Leary was paid $213,813.

There were a handful of leadership changes that affected salaries in the sector last year.

Retired superintendent Ted Fransen made $276,051 during his final year occupying the top job in Pembina Trails, after nearly a decade in the CEO role. The sum amounts to a $77,000 increase from 2021.

The retiree indicated the payout is a combination of six weeks of vacation time he had banked and carried over annually since 2005-06, his first year as an assistant superintendent, and backpay connected to the province’s now-defunct wage freeze bill.

“I invested my time in the division and the payback was when I retired,” he said Wednesday.

Fransen added: “Being a superintendent came with incredible rewards and challenges — it’s a great calling and I took the responsibilities seriously, as I know all of my colleagues who are in senior administration do.”

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society deemed recent salary increases “concerning,” as it cited how hard teachers fought for minimal raises amid the government-mandated wage freeze during the last round of bargaining.

“There is clearly money in the coffers, and we hope to see this generosity extended to our hard-working public school teachers as we negotiate our first ever provincial collective agreement,” president Nathan Martindale said in a statement.

Pembina Trails’ new leader, Lisa Boles, who was an assistant superintendent until her promotion took effect on Sept. 1, brought home $197,427 last year.

Kelly Barkman, who retired from RETSD’s top job last summer, made $172,450 last year.

Sandra Herbst took the reins of Manitoba’s second largest division on Aug. 1 after an educational consulting stint in the private sector. Herbst’s salary was $84,578 in 2022.

St. James Assiniboia’s Jenness Moffatt earned $173,094 last year, during which she worked as an assistant superintendent and more recently, acting superintendent. The SJASD leader was officially named CEO in May.

Mofatt’s predecessor, Mike Wake made $141,416 prior to taking an educational leadership role outside Manitoba around this time last year.

Public school divisions are required to publish the names and titles of all employees who earn $85,000 and up within six months of the end of the calendar year.

The minimum disclosure threshold was recently increased from $75,000.

By Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 07, 2023 at 22:23

This item reprinted with permission from   Free Press   Winnipeg, Manitoba
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