In split decision, Oak Creek superintendent receives raise
Burmeister's salary to increase by 3.5 percent
Oak Creek — In a split decision, the School Board voted to give Superintendent Sara Burmeister a 3.5 percent raise. She will make $164,430 in 2014.
The vote was met with opposition on two fronts. Board member Mark Verhalen, who voted for the raise, initially supported a smaller raise but said he voted yes to compromise with other board members. Board members Kathleen Borchardt and Sheryl Cerniglia voted against the motion.
Board members in support of the move cited that Burmeister has one of the longest tenures of any superintendent in the area. Burmeister has 33 years of experience, 13 of which in Oak Creek, which gives her the most experience of any superintendent in the southern Milwaukee area. According to the Department of Public Instruction, the second closest is Lowell Holtz, Superintendent of Whitnall School District, at 32 years total, three years locally.
Paul Mason, school board vice president, noted that while Burmeister has one of the longest tenures, she isn't compensated accordingly. Her salary for the 2012-2013 school year was $158,000. He cited that Franklin Public School's superintendent, Steve Patz, was making more than Burmeister at a yearly $164,000 even though he has half her total experience, at 17 years total and with six years of local experience.
Greendale and Whitnall's superintendents made roughly $3,000 less than Burmeister last year, although Greendale Superintendent John Tharp has 20 years of total and one year local of experience.
Verhalen, who believed she was aptly compensated and was against a higher salary, said he was surprised when Mason motioned for a 3.5 percent raise. Many board members, when discussing Burmeister's pay, supported a 4 percent or higher raise.
"I still believe it was a little too high but was better than 4 or 5, which was being proposed by other members," he said.
Verhalen said he voted for the 3.5 percent raise because he thought it was a good compromise between his and Mason's proposal.
Closer to teachers' raise
Mason said he moved for the 3.5 percent increase because it would be closer to the 2.1 percent raise Oak Creek teachers will be receiving this year. They are in the upper bracket of average salaries, according to DPI numbers. Oak Creek teachers were paid an average of $60,283 in 2013, making Oak Creek the 21st highest-paying district for teachers.
Franklin teachers, however, were paid more than Oak Creek's, at an average salary of $62,444.
"I think she does a terrific job and I don't think people understand the performance she has in relative to her peers," Mason said. "I don't think anybody wants to lose her and I think she deserves to be recognized for the work she does."
The two dissenting board members, Cerniglia and Bordchart, voted against the motion for different reasons. Bordchart said she thought the 3.5 percent wasn't a high-enough raise and supported a 4-percent raise.
Cerniglia was absent during the initial discussion on Burmeister's raise and wrote that she wasn't briefed on the discussion before the meeting.
She wrote that she also voted no because Burmeister's evaluation was a verbal discussion only; there was no written evaluation. She also wrote that she believed there should have been more feedback from others in the district, including teachers and families, and noted that she wouldn't have supported a 3.5 percent raise because she believed the raise should be no more than what the district was offering other employees.
She said she didn't think Burmeister was unworthy of a raise.
At a glance: superintendent salary in 2013
Total years of experience:33
Years in District:13
Total years of experience:17
Years in District:6
Total years of experience:24
Years in District:10
Total years of experience:32
Years in District:3
Total years of experience:20
Years in District:1
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