Is the Sioux Falls School District really that tight on money? Several administrators get massive raises

So I started reading this Argus story about across the board raises, this is what the district said;

The wage gap between teachers and administrators in the Sioux Falls School District is widening.

School board candidates in May criticized the district for its spending on administrative salaries, but later in the month the board approved a three-year contract stating that when Sioux Falls teachers get raises, so do their bosses.

This school year, all employees will see a 2.75% salary increase, but when administrators make an average of $76,000 more annually than teachers, that raise goes further for them.

But when you look at the salary increases from last year (they are approved by the school board in July) in the graphic below I created from the district’s salary data, you will see another story. Many administrators are getting massive wage increases right after they approved a $300 million dollar school bond. Here are the entire PDF docs of salaries; 2018-19, 2019-2020

“The city of Sioux Falls, the county, Sanford Health, Avera Health, it’s just kind of the way it works,” said former board member and current administrator Doug Morrison said of the district’s salary schedule. “So everyone can aspire to have a pathway to what they want to be in life.”

The problem(s) with Morrison’s statement (there are several) is that the SFSD is NOT a private corporation or private non-profit, it is a taxpayer funded entity, and our taxes are going through the f’ing roof!

Mickelson would not explain the issue further, but suggested administrator pay be set year-to-year based on performance and the financial condition of the school district instead.

However, district officials say the blanket percentage increase and not seeing the contract’s details beforehand is common practice, something that’s been ongoing for about 20 years. 

Whoa! Cynthia and I agree on something. At least Todd Vik (the business manager) admits to the secrecy and backroom deals. Someone told me recently that they overheard Alberty (who just left the board) say in reference to the Sioux Falls City Council’s very public airing of grievances that the school board makes decisions behind closed doors before the public meeting so the public can’t see the sausage being made, so to speak. Well isn’t that nice?!

Vik acknowledged the percentage allocated for increases to teacher salaries has consistently also been tied to administrative salary increases, except for four occasions. 

District officials also said the average increase isn’t as large as it seems on paper, and includes those moving up the steps of a set salary schedule.

“A wage gap is accurate, but disparity, if I were to look up the definition, that would say to me our teacher salaries are growing by a less percentage than our administrators,” Alberty said about his May vote Wednesday. “But it’s tied to the teachers increases get and that’s not a disparity in my mind at all.”

Really? The data below tells a different tale Mr. Vik and Mr. Alberty. Administrators are getting rich while the taxpayers are getting screwed.

In the graphic, the RED DOTS denote who got a raise over 2.75%. In fact out of 68 employees listed, 42 got more than that. I also listed the percentages they received. You will also notice that job titles are NOT listed, it is that way in the data the SFSD has listed.


#1 Warren Phear on 08.05.19 at 7:22 am

9 to 10 million in admin salaries? This is wrong…flat wrong.

#2 D@ily Spin on 08.05.19 at 8:13 am

Disgusting. Parents can’t afford school clothes, supplies, lunch, and fees while these 70 crooks knock down 6 figures for doing nothing.

#3 Michael L. Wyland on 08.05.19 at 9:06 am

A couple/few brief points:

1) Also look for “teachers on special assignment” who are counted as teachers for personnel purposes but who are performing administrative functions. This dual status or misleading status affects both administrative cost calculations and student-teacher ratios.

2) There is a graph on the Internet tracking the growth of administrative costs as a part of total K-12 education costs since 1970. I wish I had saved it! (BTW, there is a similar graph for healthcare costs.)

3) Before we get *too* outraged about administrative costs (including salaries), it’s important to remember that many of these positions are mandated by federal law and some are actually paid, either partially or fully, using federal funds. Even some of the positions paid for by local tax funds or state K-12 aid are mandated positions, established for good reasons such as special education oversight, technical education support, etc.

4) Education generally, and school administration n particular, tend to require high levels of both education and professional credentialing. These educational achievements and credentials are rewarded with greater compensation because the education and credentials are presumed to assure higher quality service from these employees. In addition, in some cases, these credentials and degrees are valued highly elsewhere in the market and public school districts have to compete for personnel.

5) When you get into the weeds on school administrator compensation, you may find that no one is paid from a single account. Many SF school administrators receive 5% of their salary from federal grant A, 10% from federal grant B, 15% for providing oversight of one program and another 15% for oversight of another, unrelated, program, etc.

#4 l3wis on 08.05.19 at 9:56 am

While everything you are saying may be true, I am questioning massive salary increases (not the wages themselves) for people working in the public sector. I have never believed that the public sector should have to compete with the private sector. In the public sector has things like pensions and healthcare benefits AFTER retirement, that rarely exists anymore in the private sector. I also wanted to point out that Vik is essentially LYING about the wage increases, it wasn’t ‘across the board.’

#5 credentials on 08.05.19 at 10:22 am

Most SFSD building principals do not have doctorates. They have the same level of education as the majority of SFSD teachers, a masters degree.

BTW, Todd Vik is into self-protection. Between his wife, Tracy, and himself, they make $311,742 a year (salaries only). Also, between the two of them, they received a total of $23,352 in increases just for the 2019-2020 school year.

#6 Lower level SFSD employee on 08.05.19 at 12:46 pm

And this kind of stuff is why I am seriously contemplating leaving my job with the SFSD. The lower level employees are not monetarily valued, even those with 4 year degrees.

#7 l3wis on 08.05.19 at 1:10 pm

I’m not going to debate what people should get paid, I don’t work in education, so I have no idea. But what is extremely unfair is that when teachers are only getting a 2.75% wage increase while some administrators are getting between 6-16% that is ridiculous, especially in the public sector.

#8 scott on 08.05.19 at 2:09 pm

for those administrators who claim they can make more in the private sector, by all means take the job.

#9 scott on 08.05.19 at 2:12 pm

i see dee ann konrad gets almost $135k to put out press releases and record the “schools closed due to weather” voicemails.

#10 l3wis on 08.05.19 at 2:49 pm

Exactly. The only way you would get a 16% pay increase in the private sector is if you reached some kind of project goal or sales goal which means you helped the profitability of the company. The SFSD is not a for-profit business. They also would not have extended breaks, snow days and several holidays off. Most private sector jobs also don’t cover pensions and healthcare after you retire.

#11 Jon on 08.05.19 at 9:18 pm

Scott: I noticed the Dee Ann Konrad one right away. Ridiculous amount of money for what that position does and the degree of technical difficulty required for it. My wife works her ass off as an accountant with deadlines, audits, endless meetings, staying late to finish constantly, complicated spreadsheets and accounting software and makes nowhere near what this glorified personal assistant does for Maher.

#12 Timbuktu on 08.05.19 at 9:29 pm

Great story. Why doesn’t our local media look at this? Those pay scales are disgusting. If you make Principal level or get a cushy job in admin I guess your entitled to 115k plus. Meanwhile the taxpayers get hosed. Worse yet, the teachers (who do the work) get half of this if they are maxed in their lane with a doctoral degree. No wonder the district has all these “low level you are scum’ positions available at 11 bucks an hour. Filthy

#13 l3wis on 08.05.19 at 9:59 pm

You are right, where is the media on this? The AL decided to post the teacher salaries instead. We continue to not only have our property taxes increased, but we went as far to increase sales taxes, and for what? So Admin can make corporate scale wages and bonuses?

#14 The Guy from Guernsey on 08.05.19 at 11:30 pm

The Education Reporter for the local paper strikes me as an extension of SFSD administration. Simply printing the talking points fed to her by Conrad, Morrison and others in the district.
She was likely spoon-fed the teacher salary information, filtered, sorted, formatted and ready to print.
Probably never even dawned upon her that she had not been fed the whole meal.

#15 "'Extremely' Stable Genius" on 08.05.19 at 11:55 pm

Are we really still planning to go ahead with a school named, Rifle, I mean Reifel? Have they no sense of decency? It’s not Ben’s fault, but there is a time and a place for everything, and this is not the time.

Based on these salaries, too, I also didn’t realize that so many members of the Taupe Housing Society of Conformity worked for the District, too. No wonder they need all of those “Super Precincts” on the southside of town.

#16 Doreen Johnson on 08.06.19 at 9:00 am

We will get what we give and be outraged at the audacity of it all. Teachers use their payroll to bankroll classroom supplies, create an environment conducive to provide best case scenerio in classroom best tailored for success of all students and their study mates. We are speaking volumes without a single voice to hear. Our teachers day ends nor with a ring of the bell but when that last grade is recorded, the final photo taken at the best pep rally ever or when she/he finally falls off to sleep, ready and prepared to continue the curriculum into yet the next day too. I would give every educator their weight in gold for all they provide to my student who’s sometimes home mostly alone. Away at work until that last tic toc calling local news to their stations and the last student she/he mmust comfort from another trying day of the various pains of life and grown up things. Heartfelt hugs, pep talks validating making certain I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re all okay & we are gonna make it one more day. Sleep evades our teacher for no time to turn down devices, decompress, nor rejuvenate from the day of unrelenting stress. She engages her go to list of having NO time for sleeplessness…Thank you teacher, thank you this precious gift called my child of whom you alone uplift. Shared your sandwich with a student not so fortunate. Please show our educators the value we attest to each and everyone of them for always doing their best. Rent is due, gas went up as b my kids have the flu. Insurance, medicine, rest, gotta get a provider to love my child through this mess while I trod off to school hoping today we will all be our best and nothing less. Thank you for every moment spent, every care given, every supply a welcoming nest. Priceless! Money is better when put where your mouth is and credited to the account of SHE/HE who seems to guess best the nurtured mess who just tested out of the only class sure to make him his very best as business partner to the company only his parents have manifested prosperity and abundance to make everyone a screaming success. Celebrate and help others everyday creating creating kindness & HOPE each single day. Admin my A&&! Educators do it BEST!

#17 Blasphemo on 08.06.19 at 10:13 am

I’m guessing many of these SFSD administrative employees choose to live & raise families in Sioux Falls. I wonder how many commensurate salary opportunities REALLY exist in the local private sector for these persons & their “highly valued credentials & degrees”. Let them posture they can do as well in the private sector, and see if that opportunity really exists without their relocating to a place with lower quality of life ratings for families.

#18 LJL on 08.06.19 at 10:00 pm

I knew the administrative pay was bad but that list blows me away…Whats the total?

The fox is living in the hen house and us tax paying suckers cant stop the carnage.

#19 Incomplete List on 08.07.19 at 10:47 am

This list does not include all of the assistant principals in the District. They are also considered Administration.

#20 Jon on 08.07.19 at 3:14 pm

Great point about private sector equivalent positions in this community. These pay levels simply DO NOT exist in our city. This shit has to stop.

Ponder this: Doug Morrison makes the equivalent of nearly 10 hard working Education Assistants, with a position that was made out of whole cloth by Dr. Maher.

#21 Erica on 08.08.19 at 12:41 am

Wait, this is Sioux Falls? Didnt one of the local papers run a piece just within last few months about how majority in the city make 40k or less? Half of school students on free or reduced lunch? Guess one needs to work for the school diatrict or city to do well here. Both seem to be ripping us off and raising our property taxes yearly for their own pay raises. Must be nice.