Top dollars at prime posts

Some of the highest paid positions in our communities, especially the rural ones, are the school superintendents. And having 18 school districts countywide puts this position at a premium.

In recent years, however, districts have found superintendents who are staying close to home. That’s a good thing. A local leader needs to live where he works to fully understand the community.

That being said, these positions come at a high price to taxpayers. A recent state Education Department survey found the average annual salary for a superintendent runs about $176,309. In Chautauqua County, the average is $136,624, which is lower than Erie County at $171,858 and Cattaraugus County at $152,931.

Unsurprisingly, the highest superintendent salaries were downstate at $261,983 in Westchester and $254,495 in Nassau County.

Add in benefits to these salaries and the numbers jump between $55,000 and $90,000.

Even though Chautauqua County numbers seem in line, there remains too many superintendents and small districts. Even Ripley’s school, which we praise for their sharing efforts, needs to consider eliminating their position that really only oversees kindergarten to sixth grade — around 150 pupils. The secondary students are tuitioned to Chautauqua Lake.

Clymer and Panama share a superintendent. That’s led to merger talks.

If consolidations are good enough for our villages and towns, then area schools need to be a greater part of the statewide discussion as well.