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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wellesley school official apologizes for superintendent pay flap


In an open letter to town residents, Wellesley School Committee Chairman Michael Young has apologized for the upset caused by an 8.5 percent salary increase given to outgoing Superintendent of Schools Matthew King.

In the letter, Young acknowledged that the salary increase -- which came one month after Town Meeting agreed to ask voters for a property tax override for the sixth time in five years -- "did not sit well with many people."

"It is clear that we underestimated the public's reaction and the stress our actions would place on the other town boards and department management teams," wrote Young. "For that, we are sorry."

Yet Young does not necessarily believe the increase itself was out of line and he objects to comparisons, made by some critics, between King's new $185,000 salary and the $183,500 salarly paid to the US Secretary of Education.

"I think people who live in this town should see it as a Ph.D running a $46 million high-tech business with 700 employees," Young said in an interview. "Nobody else has the responsibility he has."

After King informed the committee of his intention to retire at the end of this school year, the School Committee voted give him a $10,000 raise, from $175,000 to $185,000. Add to that a $7,000 increase in the town's contribution to his pension annuity, from $26,000 to $33,000, and King's compensation package is $218,000.

By comparison, in Newton, the superintendent's compensation package is $225,000, and in Needham, the package totals $143,000.

The School Committee has put the matter on the agenda for its next meeting, which will be held Tuesday night.

-- Lisa Keen

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