What do they earn? A look at the salaries of Ridgefield's highest paid employees

Salaries make up 62% of the $90.4 million school budget for 2016-17. That’s more than $68 million. Another 19% — about $21 million — goes to employee benefits.

Salaries for town departments — police, fire, highway, parks and recreation, town administration — total nearly $17.5 million, and make up 48% of the current 2016-17 year’s $36.6 million town-side budget. Another $7.5 million — 21% of the total — goes for town employee benefits.

Ridgefield taxpayers’ highest-salaried employee is the superintendent of schools, who makes $242,500 a year — a base salary of $230,000, with a $12,500 annuity. Among town employees, the highest paid is the chief of police, at $144,368.

The first selectman — the town’s equivalent to the school superintendent in authority — is the fifth highest paid town-side worker at $128,534. That salary leaves the first selectman below the pay of 24 school officials — top central office staff, and numerous principals, assistant principals and supervisors — making him the 29th highest paid employee in both town and school payrolls.

Of course, Ridgefield’s a fairly affluent town. The median household income is about $148,000.

The schools’ workforce amounts to 718 full-time positions.

For Ridgefield teachers — at 448 full-time positions, by far the most numerous public employees in town — the salary scale starts at $46,671 for a new hire with just a bachelor’s degree, and goes up to $115,072 for a teacher with a doctorate and 17 or more years of teaching.

Some teachers — though certainly not all —  make more, as a result of stipends for extra duties.

“That’s just base salary,” said School Personnel Director Karen Dewing. “We have different variations. Some teachers get a stipend for department chair, or extra days in the summer, or could be a coach or a dean and get a stipend. There’s different things that would add to these base salaries.”

Summers off

A teacher’s work day — not counting time at home grading papers, or preparing lessons — is seven hours and 20 minutes.

“Our student day is 6 hours sand 50 minutes. Our teachers must be here a minimum of 30 minutes beyond the student day — and then it depends on level, elementary days look different than a middle school day or a high school day,” Dewing said.

“And they work 187 days, unless they’re supposed to come in over the summer.”

Administrators often work more, and people in the central office work a 12-month year, without the summers off that teachers get.

Ridgefield's highest paid employees

Here’s the pay of the top 10 school officials, by position, with stipends for those that get them included as part of salary totals:

Superintendent of schools $242,000;

Assistant superintendent (curriculum) $195,842;

Assistant superintendent (special services) $190,000;

High school principal, $184,493;

Director of personnel, $181,788;

Middle school principals (two), $172,553;

Director of technology, $168,600;

Assistant high school principal, $165,457;

Elementary principals (five), $165,277;

Assistant high school principal, $163,457.

Paras, custodians, secretaries

At the bottom of the schools’ pay structure are “supervisory paraeducators” — people who might mind kids on the playground, or in the cafeteria — making $14.79 an hour to start. That would be $30,763 if they worked 40 hours for 52 weeks — but these are generally part-time positions, and they don’t.

There are also “clerical paraeducators” who range from $16.36 to $21.53 and hour, and generally work six hours and 20 minutes a day, for 182 days a year. The means they earn from $18,847 to $24,804 from the school system.

And “instructional paraeducators” range from $17.87 to $23.36 an hour, and are likely to work six hours and 20 minutes a day for 182 days, earning $20,587 at the starting rate and $26,912 at the top rate.

School custodians work a 40 hour week, and start at $22.23 an hour, which amounts to a $46,238 for 52 weeks. School custodians’ pay tops out at $32.79 an hour, which is $68,141 for 40 hours, 52 weeks a year.

School secretaries range from $25.60 to $34.20 an hour, and work a 35-hour week. That’s a range of $46,592 to $62,244.

Town side

Town departments currently have 188 full-time, 50 part-time and an additional 200 seasonal or on-call employees, according to town Human Resources Director Laurie Fernandez.

Fernandez views the town’s salaries as fairly typical for public sector jobs in an expensive area.

“I think in each role you can find a town that pays more or less than Ridgefield,” she said. “We pay a fair rate, but we are still behind many private sector jobs. Fairfield County as a whole the municipalities pay more than the rest of the state in general.”

Town top 10

Of the top 21 town salaries, 10 are in the police department.

Here are the town’s top 10 highest paid positions:

Chief of police, $144,368;

Town engineer, $137,531;

Finance director, $136,364;

Police major, $131,253;

First selectman, $128,534;

Director of public services, $127,345;

Director of parks and recreation, $120,782;

Assessor, $119,467;

Police captain (three), $117,202;

Maintenance mechanics supervisor, $109,464.

Pay grades

Among town employees, the lowest pay is a grade I custodian, which starts at $12.48 an hour and goes up to $16.21 under the town’s contract with the UPSEU, the United Public Service Employees Union. The $12.48 an hour rate, for 40 hours a week and 52 weeks, amounts to $25,958 a year. At $16.21 an hour, the top salary is $33,717.

The UPSEU contract also includes administrative workers, with the rates for top positions such as assistant tax collector or deputy town clerk ranging from $23.89 to $33.45 an hour. Administrative workers generally have a 35 hour work week, meaning that that top annual paychecks range from $43,479 at $23.89 an hour to $60,879 at $33.45 an hour.

The other unions

The town is in its last year of a four-year contract with the police union.

For 2016-17, patrol officers start at $60,717 and there six steps leading to a maximum of $88,973.

Police sergeants have two steps, starting at $91,375 and a second step at $92,863.

Lieutenants in the police department also have two salary steps with annual salaries of $96,923 and $101,171.

Police captains have three steps: $105,591, $111,241, and a top step of $117,202.

Police officers work eight and a quarter hour shifts, for a 41.25 hour work week. They can be assigned to any of three shifts, day, evening and midnight. The normal schedule is four days on, two days off.

The town’s contract with local 1303-142 of the AFSCME, AFL-CIO, representing workers in the highway and parks and recreation departments, is a four-year agreement ending June 2019.

They work 40-hour weeks.

The salary scale shows seven pay ranges.

At the bottom, a highway laborer or parks and recreation groundskeeper laborer has a total of five steps ranging $24.66 an hour to $28.77 an hour.

That’s an annual salary range of from $51,293 to $59,842 in the 40-hour week, 52 weeks a year.

For the highway department’s “driver/laborer” position, or a parks and recreation groundskeeper with commercial driver’s license, there’s a five-step pay range from $26.88 an hour to $31.76 an hour. That means an annual salary range from $55,910 to $66,061.

The top position in a public works mechanic, with a five-step pay range from $29.25 an hour to $34.20 an hour. That would be an annual salary ranging from $60,840 to $71,136.

Climbing the ladder

The town is in the last year of its three-year contract with Ridgefield Firefighters Union Local 1739.

Firefighters have a 42-hour work week.

Salaries for firefighters start at $51,796 and there are five steps with a maximum step at $73,806.

Fire department lieutenants have two steps: $75,585 and $77,364.

Fire department captains also have two steps: $81,378 and $85,451.

There are three steps for the fire marshals, starting at $81,186, then $85,247, with a top step of $89,509.

Police officers, firefighters, and highway plow drivers are on call beyond their regular work weeks, and are paid overtime for additional hours, pushing their base pay up.