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Newton superintendent made $247,800 in 2008

Posted by Your Town  February 3, 2009 03:30 PM

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By Rachana Rathi, Globe Staff

Newton Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Young made $247,870 in 2008, keeping him at the top of the city's payroll and among the highest paid superintendents in the state.

Young is one of several prominent Newton city employees who made more in 2008 than they did in 2007, even as the economy began to plummet and local governments and businesses tightened spending. The 2008 earnings figures, released yesterday by the city, are inflated somewhat because the city had 53 weekly pay periods in 2008.

List of the 100 highest-paid city employees

There were 197 Newton city employees who made more than $100,000 in 2008, a figure swelled by the settlement of a contract with firefighters who received large amounts of back pay.

City spokesman Jeremy Solomon, who made just over $100,000 in 2008, said that many of the earnings increases in 2008 are reflective of a collective bargaining agreement reached in 2006.

"Obviously the fiscal landscape has changed quite a bit since then," he said. "I can't tell you what's going to happen on the bargaining table, but I can tell you we're very concerned about the prospects of fiscal year 2010...Mayor (David) Cohen has said everything is on the table -- from salaries to programs and service cuts."

More than a dozen of city's union contracts expire at the end of this fiscal year, and the city is expected to begin negotiations this spring.

Newton has been the target of taxpayer complaints in recent months because it is building a new $195-million high school, the most expensive in the state.

The figures show that more than 200 city of Newton employees made more than Mayor Cohen, who is paid $97,500 a year. Cohen sought a $27,500 raise in May, but abandoned the effort after a political outcry.

Young's earnings reflect a 4.5-percent salary increase that went into effect July 1, as well as other benefits he receives as superintendent. By contrast, Boston superintendent Carol R. Johnson makes $275,000 a year. The school committee declined to give her a bonus last September, though she received positive reviews.

Marc Laredo, chairman of the School Committee, said the city is not in a position to ask for a wage freeze from Young.

"As many communities do, we have a multi-year contract with our superintendent which has certain contractual obligations that we are obligated to meet. In fairness to everybody, we negotiated this contract a year and half ago, and when you negotiate an agreement, you do so in good faith," Laredo said.

In Newton, recently departed city police chief John O'Brien, the third highest in the city with earnings of $165,084, was among the prominent employees who made more in 2008 than in 2007. His earnings increased by more than $8,600 from 2007, a figure presumeably inflated partly by the extra pay period in 2008.

Fire Chief Joseph LaCroix received $6,300 more last year than in 2007, raising his earnings to $141,239. Solomon, the city spokesman, was paid $100,419 in 2008, up from $91,922 in 2007.

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34 comments so far...
  1. OUTRAGEOUS!

    Posted by Liz February 3, 09 03:57 PM
  1. In God we trust but Mayor Cohen gets cash. How a bonehead could be elected to this great city is amazing. No doubt luck, connections and the fact he could not do anything else helps. If I sound ungreatful it is because I am. If I met Mr. Cohen I would say " Thanx for nothin pal.

    Posted by Mymoney Inyourpocket February 3, 09 03:58 PM
  1. "They include the city's spokesman, the fire chief and the recently departed police chief."

    "Recently departed city police chief James O'Brien, the third highest in the city with earnings of $165,084,"

    When did the police chief die? ...all these references to the "departed"?

    Posted by TechnoTrickster February 3, 09 04:22 PM
  1. nobody ever told me growing up that I should be a teacher, fireman, police officer or public servant because they pay well over $100k/year, with benefits and perks in addition to early lifetime pensions. quarter of a million$$$, thats nice cake.

    Posted by ethics in life February 3, 09 04:26 PM
  1. Considering years of experience and education level school sups. are not overpaid. Ever hear of CEOs?

    Posted by barco1 February 3, 09 04:29 PM
  1. Next time your town comes crying to you for a Prop 2.5 override, keep these types of bloated salaries in mind.

    What does a City spokesman do? What the heck kind of job is that? Is it even necessary?

    And yes, superintendents ARE overpaid. CEOs are heads of private companies. A public employee being paid that much money?


    The Vice President of the United States 2009 salary is $227,300.

    Now, tell me that a school superintendent is not overpaid.

    Posted by Mikey "Insane" Monkeypants February 3, 09 04:45 PM
  1. Another example of why our state is being crushed financially. MA pays WAY WAY too much to its employees. This is crazy.

    Posted by myco1 February 3, 09 04:46 PM
  1. Excellent...I hope the state is giving them a big chunk of money for their $150mil school so that we can all share in these overblown salaries.

    Posted by phonyuser February 3, 09 05:00 PM
  1. Wake up!!
    What do you think it means to be a "public servant". (Someone actually asked me.)
    I ignored the ?
    In the olden days it was different.
    Today (last 20+ years, probably more) it means, what do I get, gimme, gimme more.
    Today ALL (every level, town, city, sate (incl fire, police) "public servants" get pensions based on last 3 years. Plus overtime, disabilities( all jump in here).
    Or youcan make it a LAW, U can get 100%, easy, JUST ASK, Beacon Hill will make it a law. Wow a LAW, get 100% of salary (+ maybe other stuff, HEALTH Ins.)
    (note: S.S. based on ENTIRE work history, 30, 40 years)
    Do you want more. There is more, I'm getting tired.
    OH I see winkin and nodin goin on. Yes, Massachusetts.

    Posted by globe commenter February 3, 09 05:15 PM
  1. Federal employees max out at $153k except senior executives which max out at $172,000 The head of the department of defense makes less than these guys. Also federal employees hired since the mid 80s don’t get pensions. They have a 401ks. Having a pension like the state and city workers do is worth an extra 30% on average over a worker that has no plan.

    Posted by newtondweller February 3, 09 05:23 PM
  1. Certainly outrageous compensation in Newton but consider the following
    CEO Merrimack Education Center, Dr. Barranco, at $400,000+ /year with a total budget of under $ 3 million/year. MEC is a collaborative that provides special needs services to Westford, Chelmsford,etc....
    Of course Westford's former Deputy Police Chief compensation was $179,000 in 2006 for helping run a 50 person department. Then the Westford High School Athletic Director gets $90,000 plus per year, plus a secretary, etc.
    According to the Globe, Westford has over 70 employees/1000 residents. In the last 10 years my taxes have more than doubled.
    Over 1000 state police officers make over $100,000 year.
    Fiddle sticks, I should have been a public servant and lined my pockets.

    Posted by Hobo42 February 3, 09 05:34 PM
  1. These salaries are offensive, but not anywhere near as offensive as the lifetime pension and health costs for these employees. Many will collect 75% or more of their working salary as long as they live when they retire with 2 or 3 decades of service. To earn $200K for the rest of your life with a 401(k), one would need to have saved about $4 million. What's in your 401(k)? Does Newton have $4M set aside to pay this pension out? Certainly not. It will come out of higher and higher taxes paid by the schoolchildren Carol Johnston is supposedly educating, multiplied by all these government workers with similar benefits. This is outright theft.

    Although it looks like Carol Johnston understands her own personal economics, it's clear that Netwon's school system is not generating taxpayers who know when others are stealing from them! That seems like a pretty basic lesson for schools to teach.

    There is a political class emerging in the United States that will rival the "party members" in the old USSR. They will have the best salaries, lifetime benefits, and access to health care and other expensive services that others can only dream of. They will be able to keep their relatives connected to the best jobs, and they will be protected by (and protect) their friends and fellow party members. They will be in positions of power that enable them to quell dissent and threats to their authority, all done through a so-called government of the people.

    This theft is legitimized by the government, and authorized every year by ignorant taxpayers who refuse to acknowledge reality. Government can only give what it takes from others. It's time to take back your government, Newton.

    Posted by puzzling February 3, 09 05:42 PM
  1. Globe Commenter, you need to get your info straight. Pensions are NOT "based on last 3 years", rather, they are most often based on the three highest years of salary. Public servants should not be so poorly compensated they qualify for food stamps and section 8 housing.

    Many fire fighters and police officers put their lives on the line in the course of their regularly scheduled work day. Is $50,000 a year enough for that? Is $100,000? You couldn't get me to do their jobs for either of those amounts, but as a taxpaying (I pay over $50,000 a year in local + state + federal taxes and am grateful for the ability to be able to do so) citizen, I'm definately willing to pay for the services of those who are trained and committed to what they do for the rest of us.

    I could work in the public sector doing a similar job for less than 25% of what I make in private industry. The pension, benefits, and job security are the tradeoff. Some people prefer those benefits and work those jobs.

    I prefer a strong salary, even if it means I could be laid off tomorrow. My salary is enough that it's allowed me to save a significant sum of money to offset that potential negative. However, I'm not willing to give my job to work in the public sector for the salary & benefits they receive.

    If you think state employees have it so easy, quit your job and become one.

    Posted by Voter February 3, 09 05:49 PM
  1. Hi Voter.
    100k with these benefits is like $140k for someone in the private world. $248K is like $380k. Public employees should make far less than their private counterparts if they get these pensions etc…. The huge salaries for state and local workers is fairly new. Toss in the benefits and it is over the top. There is no way that the Jeff Young in Newton is worth with benefits, 2x the Secretary of Defense. If you want to keep the salaries up then go to a 401k like the Feds did 25 years ago.

    Posted by newtondweller February 3, 09 06:17 PM
  1. I just LOVE the perfect world sceniaro painted by voter.
    Hey naive person, remember the government produces NOTHING, they only tell others what to do with it.
    In the mean time they totally regulate themselves (yeah raises in salary etc.) and now there are more of them than there are of us who supposedly employ them.
    It's completely upside down and yes it will ultimately bring us ALL down/
    Always remember, we get exactly what we deserve in Massachusettes.

    Posted by w4846 February 3, 09 06:29 PM
  1. workfare that's all ...........WORKFARE

    Posted by bill M. February 3, 09 06:30 PM
  1. It is too bad that while CEO's and executives make millions of dollars and get government bailouts your readers are attacking public servants because they get pensions and health care. I hope these folks are similarly outraged by professional athletes and entertainers making ridiculous sums for unnecessary jobs. We should be thankful to our police officers, fire fighters, and teachers rather than begrudging them their hard earned pay. Instead of arguing to strip these essential workers of their benefits and salaries, why not demand of our government that all citizens receive universal health care and fair wages!

    Posted by fighttherealbattles February 3, 09 06:42 PM
  1. Dear Voter (of 5:49 PM),

    Is this article the only piece of news you read this entire year? Are you rationalizing $100K salaries for firefighters because "you couldn't get me to do their jobs... " and they "put their lives on the line?"

    Did you not see the headline on the cover of most major papers today that more than a THOUSAND camped out for 35 open firefighting positions in Miami over the weekend? Does that mean these jobs pay too little? Perhaps you took Economics 101 at Newton High.

    If $100K firefighters are fairly compensated, what should the 5,000 who lost their lives over in Iraq and Afghanistan have been making? An active duty Army Corporal with 6 years of service makes $26,622. Extended separation from family and IED's included.

    Posted by puzzling February 3, 09 06:46 PM
  1. I'm not sure what you think these public employees are doing that they do NOT deserve the pay they earn. You can try to twist it and justify your anger (and incompetance) any way you want, but it IS about supply and demand. Over 1000 may have tried out for puzzling's example, but only a few are qualified to do the job.

    Yes, newtondweller, I get the concept you paint... $100K in the private is like $148K in the private... but in the private sector, somebody with those same skills would be making $250K... but as a society, we don't privatize public safety positions (unless you consider mall security to be the equivalent of state troopers) because the cost of those positions would be prohibitive. The closest example I can think of is Blackwater... and you'd better believe those mercenaries are raking in the change.

    The super makes $275K... but could also be running a company of similar size for a million a year. It really sounds like some of you have no idea what these managers do or what similar employees in the private sector earn. Instead of complaining about those who work hard for the public good, fix the situation you're in. Again, if you're jealous of state employees great salaries and wonderful benefits, become one.

    Posted by Voter February 3, 09 07:31 PM
  1. Giving the fact how the CEOs and the people in Wall street are making the super-
    intendent's pay is too little. They do so much more work than those people.

    Posted by stephanie February 3, 09 07:32 PM
  1. Lets see I get it. The teachers caused the stockmarket to fall. The police robbed all the banks of there money. The firefighters have been burning vacant buildings to force down home prices. Yeah these stateworkers are responsible for everything. PLEASE.

    Posted by rhodis February 3, 09 07:47 PM
  1. And we are giving these morons money to build a ridiculous school when we are going to loose around 7-10 teachers from the public high school where I work.

    Posted by A February 3, 09 07:58 PM
  1. You forgot to mention the Asst. Supts. in the Newton Public Schools. How much do they make??? $100K ea???

    Posted by JustForComments February 3, 09 08:02 PM
  1. of all the bloated salaries mentioned here, the only truly disgusting one is Solomon's. A city spokesman? he is david cohen's secretary and has done more to hurt david's reputation than anything david could have done to himself. solomon is impersonal and arrogant, and does not seem to have any particular skills. he was david's biggest mistake and undoing. its a shame.

    Posted by proud to live in newton February 3, 09 08:02 PM
  1. Firefighters and Police Officers put their lives on the line everyday to ensure our safety. Teachers and Educators service our children and enrich their lives, a noble and admirable profession. Although, I do think that Jeff Young's salary is astronomical and out of line compared to other superintendents around the state, I am sure that he works very hard. Since he has to cater to the entitled and arrogant Newton parents, he probably deserves a raise. No one ever criticizes or is outraged at the ridiculous salaries of professional athletes. They are greedy, do nothing to better the world or humanity and couldn't stand in front of a class of 5th graders and educate them for an entire six hours nevermind have a creative thought. Let's get our priorities straight!

    Posted by Nelle February 3, 09 10:09 PM
  1. Qualified? I wonder how well the 'qualified' public employees would be compensated if they would have to find work in the private sector. It used to be about the benefits. You might not make that much in salary but the pension and health care benefits more than made up for the difference. Not anymore. A large salary and an ample overtime, I think this is where much of the outrage comes from. For most people in the private sector with a 401k, they have lost 50%. Not public pensions. They will always be there. Or will they? The winds of change are upon us. California is so broke its not even funny and if you read enough articles, it seems the whole country, if not the world, will go broke before things turn around.

    Posted by hemhaw February 3, 09 10:34 PM
  1. How many students in Newton vs. Boston? Ratio of ELL, special needs, low income, etc. etc.? I'm just trying to get a feel for the student population in Newton. I would think being the Super. in Boston is a very different experience. Some would say scores are high, he should get that much. Most people will pay for results. I would ask how difficult is it to get the scores based on the student population?

    Posted by marchingmom February 3, 09 10:56 PM
  1. People complain about athletes' salaries all the time. The difference is that you can choose not to attend those sporting events. As a result you don't pay for those salaries. A taxpayer doesn't have the same luxury. $100k for a "spokesman"? Gimme a break. This isn't NYC we're talking about, its Newton! It also sounds like they have multiple Asst. Superintendents based on some of the posts. Why do they need more than one? Maybe we should just pay all cops , firefighters and teachers $100k+ per year, plus pensions and fully paid health benefits. Oh, and how about making 9/11 a paid holiday for all of them while we're at it. Just like those "heroes" in Peabody. After all, they seem to be the only professions that matter to so many of you liberal posters. I'd pay to see the look on the faces of all you soccer moms when you see how much your tax bill would increase as a result. Get a clue!

    Posted by kalajen February 3, 09 10:57 PM
  1. As far as the firefighters in Newton, the salaries are artifically high. They received retro checks close to half their years salary dependent on many factors after having to fight 6 years to get a raise and stop being treated so poorly. Without retro checks maybe one or 2 would have been in the top 100 in Newton. Newton firefighters are way down in the list of salaried firefighters in the state.Firefighters pay 11 percent of their weekly pay into the retirement system. Like Voter says if you want the position so bad you can take a competitive entrance exam and get the job.

    Posted by sick of know it alls February 12, 09 12:07 PM
  1. How many of these names would show up on the list of top 100 salaries of residents of the City of Newton? Probably zero! It's a good guess that they wouldn't show up in the top 1,000 or 10,000. Someone making $100,000 for 52 weeks a year who works on average about 70 hours per week makes about $27/hour before taxes, and 70 hours is not unusual with night meetings, early morning meetings and work being brought home. There are many in the private sector who make a lot more than that without having responsibility for the safety of others. If you don't want the salaries paid, then be willing to give up the services that you demand...do your own plowing/salting at 3 AM, don't call for emergency services on a holiday, home school your children, purchase bottled water rather than have safe, clean water.

    Posted by Be Realistic March 7, 09 05:31 PM
  1. Once again, "news" like this is skewed because it fails to mention how many total employees there are in the City of Newton. Additionally, the municipal employees that REALLY run a town are not Police, Fire or School. Those who really make the towns function are usually the lowest paid employees, with the worst benefits, who don't have the kind of union/political clout that more visible departments do.

    The Globe should publish a list of the "Bottom 100" full time employees. That would be a big eye-opener.

    Posted by LittleBooper April 29, 09 12:12 PM
  1. These salaries are nothing compared to the benefits they receive. Free health, medical, pension, etc. That's the real money drain here. They're all part of the contracts that public sector unions have negotiated throughout the years. And they never go down, only up. Now that the economy is in bad shape, what do they want to do to cover their costs? Tax us some more, add fees, and my favorite zealously enforce every parking meter.

    Posted by Check the benefits April 29, 09 01:57 PM
  1. The Good News is that there is a Pension Crisis coming to a City, Town, and State near you. Sadly, elected officials and Union representatives are lousy at Math. The financial returns that are required to pay pensions out to all the Government employees that have been promised are impossible. The Pension Funds of all States took a major hit in 2008 and they have to work really hard to make up for these losses. The reality is that there is no way to fund all that has been promised.

    There will be State Pension funds that go bankrupt in the coming years and cities that go bankrupt because of overly generous pay for Public servants. Then and only then will the Politicians fix the Problem!

    I think there will be major reform as a result of a Money crisis in the coming few years - or perhaps I just wish I had followed my parents into Public service.

    Posted by PensionCrisis April 29, 09 05:23 PM
  1. All I see are people crying about how much public employees make. Funny thing is that noone put how much they make. I dont see any one appreciating what our poilce officers and firefighters go thru every day. Lets see any one work 24 hours straight, get up at 3 in the morning get 70 puonds of equipment on in 30 seconds and save your multi million dollar house from fire and/or your family from that horrible fate of dying in a fire. Next time a family member has chest pains at 4 in the morning, who you gonna call? I thought so. How about working away from your family every holiday , nights , weekends. Much less getting shot at or listening about how your neighbors landscaper blew grass clippings over the boundary to your yard now your landscaper has to deal with it.Oh I forgot stopping crime, you know the crime that you dont want too acknowlkedge happens every where in Newton. I used to live and work in Newton. I worked in the public sector. I had to work 2 full time jobs making barley $100,000 last year. I love helping the public. It's a very noble cause.Next time you dial 911 you shouldnt worry about weather or not they want too be there but be thankful that they are,and get paid confortably to save your life and protect it.

    Posted by exnewtonite April 29, 10 10:03 AM