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State, Local School Chiefs Ranked Among Best-Paid Public Officials

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Copyright 1988 Editorial With an annual salary of $150,000, Schools Chancellor Richard R. Green of New York City is not only the nation's highest-paid public-school administrator but earns more than any other state or local public official in the country, according to a national survey.

In its second annual survey of top state, county, and city officials' salaries, the national biweekly City & State found that several school chiefs ranked among the highest-paid state and local officials in the country.

More than half of the top 10 salaries earned by such public officials were paid to city superintendents.

These executives were paid more than governors, mayors, city managers, finance directors, and other upper-echelon public figures in most states.

Mr. Green's salary surpassed last year's top earners in the survey, New York's Mayor Edward I. Koch and Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, who each earn $130,000 annually. (Governor Cuomo actually only accepts $100,000 per year, according to aides.)

City Chiefs Rank High

Others among the top five highest-paid city superintendents, according to City & State, are: Leonard M. Britton of Los Angeles, who earns $141,080 per year; and Marvin Edwards of Dallas, Joseph Fernandez of Dade County, Fla., and Joan Raymond of Houston, each of whom earns $125,000.

All but one of those superintendents were new to their jobs this year. Mr. Britton, who moved to Los Angeles from Dade County in 1987, was the only one of the five to re4ceive a pay increase on the job in 1988 He started in Los Angeles at a salary of $134,000, according to a spokesman.

This year's survey reflected a considerable amount of turnover from 1987, when the five highest-paid city superintendents were: Ms. Raymond and Nathan Quinones of New York, who both earned $125,000; Harold Handler of Los Angeles, who earned $122,147; Mr. Britton in Dade County, who earned $107,158; and Linus Wright, now an undersecretary with the U.S. Education Department, who earned $104,487 as superintendent in Dallas.

In this year's survey, Thomas Sobol, New York State's education commissioner, is the highest-paid chief state school officer, with an annual salary of $125,000.

Mr. Sobol knocks last year's top earner, Ted Sanders, Illinois' superintendent of education, into third place. Mr. Sanders remains at his 1987 salary level of $96,750, aides confirmed.

Also among the five chief state school officers earning the highest pay are: Wilmer S. Cody of Louisiana, who earns $100,000; Franklin B. Walter of Ohio, who earns $90,293; and Saul A. Cooperman of New Jersey, who earns $90,000.

Not All Boats Rising

The survey reflects the fact that some state and city boards of education have been forced to raise compensation rates dramatically to compete for qualified candidates. But no similar salary trend is apparent in rural or economically depressed areas, according to Jay P. Goldman, a spokesman for the Council of Chief State School Officers.

"There has been some upward change, but not all chief state school officials are making the most money," he said. "It's often difficult for local legislators to justify a pay increase in places where the economy is troubled."

A July 1987 salary survey by the ccsso found that the lowest-paid state superintendent--in Idaho--was making $45,000, he noted.

Salary Plus

Most of the top-paid school officials receive benefits that add to their base income levels.

Mr. Green of New York City, who last January became the city's first black schools chancellor, receives a $25,000 housing allowance from the school board and a $10,000 entertainment allowance from the local business community.

The move to New York brought Mr. Green $63,000 more in salary than he had earned in his previous position as superintendent of schools in Minneapolis. He also is paid $25,000 more than his predecessor, Mr. Quinones.

Mr. Sobol, whose current earnings reflect a raise of $32,000 over last year's base salary of $93,000, lives in a state-owned mansion and also receives an entertainment allowance from the business community. A spokesman for the state education department last week was unable to provide the amount of the allowance.

Earlier this year, the New York Board of Regents voted to increase the commissioner's salary base to make it more competitive with compensation rates in the private sector and in higher education.

Mr. Sobol said last week that the position of state commissioner inel10lNew York involves a lot more than similar jobs in other states.

"The New York Board of Regents, whom I serve as commissioner, presides over not only elementary and secondary education, but also higher education, 31 licensed professions, vocational rehabilitation, libraries, museums, public television councils and other cultural institutions," he said. "Thus, the position is not comparable to that of most other states."

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