Worcester County Superintendent of Schools Lou Taylor and the Board of Education formalized a second four-year contract this week. The new contract represents a significant increase – about 13% — over his current salary, but a little research shows his new salary of $210,000 effective July 1 is consistent with counterparts in Maryland and across the country.
It’s natural for some folks to question the salary (the average teacher salary in Worcester County is reportedly $55,000, after all), but perspective is needed. Taylor has been with the same school system for 38 years and subsequently has accrued salary step and COLA adjustments over the duration of his career.
Additionally, school administrative professionals are well paid because they have a tremendous responsibility and with it comes enormous pressure. The severity of the decisions facing school leaders over the last year have been beyond the pale of any other year, but even in normal years the stress over the responsibilities runs high in school administration. Along with job performance and accountability, a major barometer when it comes to deciding on a salary for a superintendent is the marketplace. A quick survey of Maryland school system superintendents confirmed Taylor’s salary is above the median of $169,551 and ranks in about the 75th percentile of colleagues in Maryland. As a comparison, Wicomico County’s superintendent makes about $212,000 annually to run her school system of 15,000 students. Montgomery County superintendent Jack R. Smith earns $315,000 to run the 165,000-student system. State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon as of July 1, 2020 was working on a $275,000 annual contract.
While doing some research on this subject, we came across Howard County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano, who was a co-finalist with Taylor back in 2016 for the Worcester County superintendent post. Martirano at the time was the superintendent of the West Virginia school system. Martirano was passed up for the job here but about six months after losing out on the Worcester job in May 2017 became the interim superintendent in Howard County. He became the official superintendent in July 2018 with a base salary of $285,000 to lead the school system of 59,000.
While the numbers are important especially when taxpayer dollars are concerned, it’s important to maintain a level head. It’s difficult for many folks to quantify the worth of an individual, especially when he or she makes a pittance compared to the subject of the discourse. The reality here is this contract is justified by the board’s confidence in Taylor as well as the community at large.
Though it’s been a bumpy ride since last March for public schools navigating this pandemic amid virtual schooling, by and large Taylor has shown the prowess to chart the school system’s course well. He’s a strong and clear communicator, identifying well with Worcester County families because he is a native son. Therefore, while its natural for some to have a little sticker shock over the salary, the reality is he’s well paid because it’s reflective of the education administration market, he’s been with the school system for nearly four decades and is doing an admirable job leading.