The Howard County school board will give Superintendent Michael E. Hickey a roughly 3 percent salary increase starting July 1, matching what teachers and other school employees will receive under their contracts with the school system.
With the raise, Dr. Hickey will make $115,750 next fiscal year, more than $3,000 above what he is now making. The raise was meant to keep pace with the cost of living.
The four associate superintendents each will receive a 3 percent merit pay increase in addition to their 3 percent raises.
With their increases, associate superintendents Maurice Kalin, Sydney Cousin, James McGowan and Sandra Erickson will make $92,433 a year starting July 1, a raise of $5,232 from last year.
Susan Cook, board vice chairwoman, said that Dr. Hickey deserved a merit increase, but declined to seek one. "He did an outstanding job this year, but he chose not to ask for it," she said.
In explaining that decision, Dr. Hickey said, "I just recognized that at the level of my salary. . . . there is a big difference between 3 percent and 6 percent. The board did give me a great increase at the time of my renewal. I thought that it was sufficient."
When the board renewed Dr. Hickey's four-year contract two years ago, it gave him a 10 percent increase, or roughly $10,000, outraging teachers who complained that it was out of line with what school employees were getting.
Ms. Cook defended the board's decision to give associate superintendents a total 6 percent increase this year by saying that the increase "will raise them to the point where they are a couple of thousand over the people they supervise."
Dr. Hickey, who recommended the associate superintendents' raises, said his staff has done an outstanding job on such tasks as school construction, the capital budget, school-based management and the technology magnet program for two new high schools due to open in 1996.
But the top administrators' salary increases have raised eyebrows at the Howard County Education Association, which is not questioning the raises so much as the manner in which they were given.
"We would hope in the future, the Board of Education would discuss that aspect of the budget in public and present the rationale to the general public, including school employees," said James Swab, union president. "Hopefully, the issue of how pay raises are granted and the rationale for the raises will become a campaign issue for Board of Education candidates."
In response, Dr. Hickey noted that salary negotiations for teachers and other school employees are not part of the public process either.
"The salaries are made public, but the salary increases are tied to performance evaluation," he said. "And performance evaluations are not tied to the public process."
School board Chairman Dana Hanna said that opening salary discussions to the public "would be grossly inappropriate."
"It would greatly hamper the ability to have an open, honest [discussion], with possible negative reviews on various points."
He said that if the process were conducted publicly, board members could be inhibited from criticizing school officials.
In comparison with Dr. Hickey's new $115,750 salary, Superintendent Stuart Berger of Baltimore County made $115,000 the 1993-1994 school year, up $5,000 from the previous year. His salary increase for the next fiscal year is still under negotiation, a school official said.
While Howard County has 34,300 students in its public schools, Baltimore County had 96,700 in the school year that just ended -- and will see its enrollment rise to 100,000 in the fall.
Superintendent R. Edward Shilling of Carroll County, who is retiring July 1, made $111,000 this past school year. Carroll County enrolls 24,000 students.
Superintendent Carol S. Parham of Anne Arundel County, in charge of 68,000 students, is paid $100,000.
Superintendent Walter G. Amprey of Baltimore makes $125,000 a year but is negotiating to increase his salary by $25,000. His school district has 113,000 students.