July 22, 2024

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USD 233 Olathe: Big pay hikes for administrators, achievement down

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USD 233 Olathe says average teacher salaries increased 4.7% in the 2019-20 school year to $59,391, but some district administrators received increases that were much larger.  Student achievement, meanwhile, has dropped over the years and is much lower than parents are led to believe in Kansas.

Superintendent John Allison’s pay of $336,351 was slightly lower than the year before, but the district said Allison got additional pay in 2019 for extra days worked; Allison’s pay in 2020 was about 10% higher than in 2018.

Many administrators received increases that were comparable to the average teacher, like Deputy Superintendent John Hutchinson, whose pay rose 4.6% to $218,982.

Assistant Superintendent Jessica Dain got a 10.5% increase to $181,368 but the other three assistant superintendents’ pay increases were around 5%.

Chief Technology Officer Matthew Vrlenich was paid $163,279 and almost 27% more than the year before.  Other large increases went to Stephen Massey (11% to $145,524), Jennifer Anzalone (24% to $132,046), Cassy Osborn (18% to $128,141), and Director of Social Emotional Learning Angela Salava (22.5% to $122,608).

The complete $233.6 million payroll listing is at KansasOpenGov.org.

Top-heavy management

Olathe also has more managers per student than some districts.

USD 233 employed 204.4 managers last year, including the superintendent, assistant and deputy superintendents, principals, assistant principals, directors, instruction coordinators, and curriculum specialists.  With 29,420.4 fulltime equivalent students, that’s an average of 143.9 students per manager.

By comparison, USD 512 Shawnee Mission, has 181.6 students per manager, and if staffed at that level, Olathe would have 42.4 fewer managers.

But the savings could be even greater.  Shawnee Mission has expanded its management staff under the last two superintendents but the district had 215.4 students per manager in 2015; staffed at that level, Olathe would have 68 fewer managers and the savings would make as much as $10 million more available to improve student achievement.

Student achievement much lower than parents told

The windfall from court-ordered and legislator-approved funding increase is pushing employee and administrator pay higher, but student achievement declined over the last few years, and it’s lower than many parents may realize.

According to the 2015 state assessment, 45% of students tested (Grades 3-8 and 10) were on track for college and career in Math and 52% were on track in English Language Arts.  But the most recent assessment from 2019 shows only 42% are on track in Math and 45% in ELA.

Results for 10th-graders are even lower.

The 2019 state assessment results from the Kansas Department of Education shows 31% of 10th-graders in Olathe are below grade level in Math; 32% are considered to be at grade level but still need remedial training to be on track for college and career, and only 37% are on track.

Results for English Language Arts – labeled here as Reading – are a bit better but still surprisingly low, with 27% below grade level.  35% are at grade level but still need remedial training and just 38% are on track for college and career.

State average results are also much lower than parents and employers are led to believe by school districts.

41% of students are below grade level in Math, and 34% are below grade level in Reading.  Only about a quarter of the state’s 10th-graders are on track for college and career.

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