Wages: Schools versus the County


Once a year, local governments are required to publish the names of their employees and the salaries paid those employees. Sometimes those salaries get some attention, e.g., the total compensation of former CR Schools Superintendent David Markward and other superintendents caught the attention of The Gazette.

But most of the time, schools salaries go unnoticed and I’m unsure why. I view it as a double standard, i.e., there’s one standard for local elected officials, another for city and county employees, and another for school employees. Yet, they all receive funding from property taxes.

About a month ago, I started asking for and receiving wage and salary information from the major school districts located in Linn County.  I’ve been waiting for The Gazette to gather the data for two years and post it on their Area Governments Salaries Database, but they’ve had a few other priorities.  And gathering the data was not quite as easy as I envisioned as some school districts complained that they had to do extra work to create reports.

I plan to provide the data to the Linn County Compensation Board in January 2010.  And I plan to use the salary information to determine if my employees are being paid a competitive wage to perform the same work as their peers in the schools.

I realize that some people may look at this list and want to take cheap shots at some individuals and positions.  I’m looking at it from the perspective of should a custodian at the county be paid the same as a custodian in the schools and in the cities?  Should a supervisor who supervises 10-15 personnel in a school be paid the same as a supervisor who supervises 10-15 personnel in the county and city?  Is an elected official who manages 50 personnel in the county paid the same as a non-elected manager managing the same number of personnel in the schools or in the city?

For whatever reasons, there are huge variations in pay for similar positions within local governments.  I guess that’s what you get when you have “local control”.  But if the responsibilities are the same, what are the reasons for the variations in pay?  Should the variations be large or small?  And since property taxpayers provide most of the funding for local governments, should there be a universal pay scale for local government employees in Linn County?

The links below will take you to the wage information for schools and the County for FY2008/2009.  I would be interested in your feedback.

P.S.  School board elections are one week from today, i.e., Tuesday, September 8th.  The polls open at Noon in Linn County and close at 8pm.

Education is important to Iowans.  Who we hire as employees, how many employees we hire, and how much we pay them are important.  Who we elect to school boards should be equally important.

Please take the time to become familiar with the candidates and vote.  And then urge your friends and family to do the same.

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One Response to “Wages: Schools versus the County”

  1. lcauditor Says:

    Trivia: Which local government body was the only governmental body in Linn County to freeze the wages of any positions for FY2009/2010?

    Answer: Linn County froze the wages of elected officials, management, attorneys, and confidential employees. All bargaining unit members received a wage increase.

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