June 22 2010, 11:24 AM
At an annual salary of $176,000, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg is grossly underpaid. He earns less than many superintendents and even turned down his $20,000 yearly salary increase, donating it, along with another bonus, to launch an employee-giving initiative (via INDenverTimes). Compare Boasberg's salary to that of his incoming peer, Elizabeth Celania-Fagen, who will become Douglas County's new superintendent after leaving the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona. Celania-Fagen (pictured) will earn $280,350, including retirement benefits, when she starts on July 1, according to The Denver Post. Her salary will be the highest for a public-school executive in the state, although the district has cut 168 teaching positions, placed a freeze on wages, and will begin charging for bus service. The former superintendent, Jim Christensen, earned $255,875---a salary that some have blamed for playing a role in voters' decisions to reject a mill levy and bond in 2008 that would have helped ease the district's budget problems. The district defends the pay. "The salary is in line with the demands of this position," says Douglas County spokeswoman Susan Meek. The next highest paid school exec in Colorado is Cherry Creek's Mary Chesley, who earns $263,100 a year, including retirement benefits and a $9,000 car allowance.