THE BOARD OF Education in Baltimore County is considering raising the school superintendent's pay 56 percent to $200,000 to attract top candidates to replace Anthony G. Marchione, who is retiring next spring.
But the board should not delude itself that high pay alone will encourage the nation's best administrators to apply for their top position, or that a "superstar" is what the system needs.
Dr. Marchione's current salary of $128,750 is, indeed, below that of other large school districts. The average pay nationally for superintendents is about $146,000, according to the Council of Great Cities Schools, which represents the 58 largest urban school systems. With 106,000 pupils, Baltimore County falls in the middle of that group. A moderate raise is in order.
But it isn't necessary to pay the superintendent as if he or she were a free-agent sports star. It is not in the county's interest to create a huge pay disparity between the superintendent and other school employees. Moreover, the county position shouldn't have trouble attracting exceptional candidates.
The school system enjoys broad support, is well-financed and has already undergone necessary, painful reform earlier this decade.
It's more important for the board to determine what it wants in the next superintendent than focusing on how much it's willing to pay him or her.
School system Salary
Anne Arundel Co. $115,000
Baltimore City $185,000
Baltimore County $128,750
Carroll County $115,000
Harford County $105,000
Howard County $134,246
Montgomery Co. $237,000
Prince George's Co. $160,000
State average $104,807
National average $146,000
SOURCE: State Department of Education