Rudoff responds to recent letter’s ‘inaccuracies’

To the editor:

The Lindbergh School District Board of Education believes it is in the educational best interest of families and students as well as the economic well-being of the community to maintain a high performing school district.

As a result, Lindbergh schools have been consistently recognized for their quality performance and programs — both on a state and national level — thanks to a committed professional staff.

One of the core commitments of the board is to “attract and retain high-quality staff.” The commitment of the board relates to all staff, and includes the superintendent of schools. As part of this commitment, the board uses salaries paid by comparable St. Louis County school districts as benchmarks for comparison.

While the merits of this approach might be debated from a public policy standpoint, it is imperative for the purposes of such a debate that the public has the facts.

The most recent letter to the editor contained several significant inaccuracies.

Although the writer quoted salary information obtained through Internet research, the data attributed to “the national average for a superintendent of a school district” was inaccurate. The salary listed on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site is the mean annual wage for all education administrators, including directors, supervisors or anyone who plans, directs, or coordinates the academic, clerical or auxiliary activities of either a public or private school on an elementary or secondary level.

Simply stated, the criteria offered did not correlate or equate to “the national average for a superintendent of a school district.”

The fact is that the Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis County prepares an annual report on local district salaries. For 2004-2005, the average salary for a St. Louis County school district superintendent was $156,295. By comparison, Dr. Sandfort’s salary — after 14 years on the job with Lindbergh — was $157,000.

At the same time, the average salary for the five surrounding benchmark districts in St. Louis County — Kirkwood, Mehl-ville, Parkway, Pattonville and Rockwood — was $168,340.

It is worthy to note that the average ten-ure of these superintendents was only 4.8 years on the job in their district.

The writer also alludes to “the public schools paying bonuses,” but did not offer any evidence to support that assertion. The fact is that there are no “bonuses” paid by the board to administrators as intimated in the article.

Finally, the writer recommended the board not “hire the two new directors,” suggesting that the board was adding to staff.

The fact is that in conjunction with an in-ternal reorganization and reassignment of duties among other staff, two directors were being hired, but two directors and an assistant superintendent were also departing, resulting in savings to the district of more than $120,000.

Mark R. Rudoff, president

Lindbergh Board of Education