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Salaries: How great is great?

Dr. Evan Levine

Recently I noticed a story reported in a few local papers about the “Great Salaries” many Connecticut school superintendents earned; Deborah Low, the Ridgefield schools superintendent, was mentioned as one of the highest. According to these articles, Deborah Low’s total compensation was $238,000 a year.

The articles seemed to suggest she, as well as many others, were not deserving of such a high salary.

For the town of Ridgefield, the superintendent is in charge of the education and safety of over 5,200 children as well as the many teachers and other ancillary staff members (677 in total)  that are needed to run our nine public schools.

To put her salary into perspective, I decided to review the salaries of healthcare officials involved in a non-profit hospital that operates just minutes from out town.

I looked at the tax returns filed for Danbury Hospital in 2009 and 2011.

Frank Kelly, president and CEO, took home $6,521,965  in compensation for 2008 and just $714,000 for 2010, when he left at the end of June.

Dr. Mathew Miller, chief medical officer, had total compensation of around $4,000,000 for 2008.

Senior vice president Phyllis Zapala’s total compensation was $2,153,692 in 2008 and $991,142 dollars in 2010.

John Murphy, president and CEO from July 1, 2010, took home a total compensation of $1,080,186 for the last six months of the year.

To compare, Frank Kelly’s total compensation, for just one year, would be enough to pay Mrs. Low, at her current rate, until the year 2040.

I wanted to thank Deborah Low for accepting such an important position for, when you compare it to the salaries of our local community hospital, such a reasonable compensation.

Dr. Levine lives in Ridgefield and is the author of “What Your Doctor Won’t (or Can’t) Tell You : The Failures of American Medicine — and How to Avoid Becoming A Statistic.” Questions for this column may be e-mailed to him at VANLEV@aol.com.

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