Salaries make up 62% of the $90.4 million school budget for 2016-17. That\u2019s more than $68 million. Another 19% \u2014 about $21 million \u2014 goes to employee benefits. Salaries for town departments \u2014 police, fire, highway, parks and recreation, town administration \u2014 total nearly $17.5 million, and make up 48% of the current 2016-17 year\u2019s $36.6 million town-side budget. Another $7.5 million \u2014 21% of the total \u2014 goes for town employee benefits. Ridgefield taxpayers\u2019 highest-salaried employee is the superintendent of schools, who makes $242,500 a year \u2014 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 \u2014 the town\u2019s equivalent to the school superintendent in authority \u2014 is the fifth highest paid town-side worker at $128,534. That salary leaves the first selectman below the pay of 24 school officials \u2014 top central office staff, and numerous principals, assistant principals and supervisors \u2014 making him the 29th highest paid employee in both town and school payrolls. Of course, Ridgefield\u2019s a fairly affluent town. The median household income is about $148,000. The schools\u2019 workforce amounts to 718 full-time positions. For Ridgefield teachers \u2014 at 448 full-time positions, by far the most numerous public employees in town \u2014 the salary scale starts at $46,671 for a new hire with just a bachelor\u2019s degree, and goes up to $115,072 for a teacher with a doctorate and 17 or more years of teaching. Some teachers \u2014 though certainly not all \u2014 \u00a0make more, as a result of stipends for extra duties. \u201cThat\u2019s just base salary,\u201d said School Personnel Director Karen Dewing. \u201cWe 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\u2019s different things that would add to these base salaries.\u201d Summers off A teacher\u2019s work day \u2014 not counting time at home grading papers, or preparing lessons \u2014 is seven hours and 20 minutes. \u201cOur student day is 6 hours sand 50 minutes. Our teachers must be here a minimum of 30 minutes beyond the student day \u2014 and then it depends on level, elementary days look different than a middle school day or a high school day,\u201d Dewing said. \u201cAnd they work 187 days, unless they\u2019re supposed to come in over the summer.\u201d 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\u2019s 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\u2019 pay structure are \u201csupervisory paraeducators\u201d \u2014 people who might mind kids on the playground, or in the cafeteria \u2014 making $14.79 an hour to start. That would be $30,763 if they worked 40 hours for 52 weeks \u2014 but these are generally part-time positions, and they don\u2019t. There are also \u201cclerical paraeducators\u201d 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 \u201cinstructional paraeducators\u201d 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\u2019 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\u2019s 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\u2019s salaries as fairly typical for public sector jobs in an expensive area. \u201cI think in each role you can find a town that pays more or less than Ridgefield,\u201d she said. \u201cWe 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.\u201d Town top 10 Of the top 21 town salaries, 10 are in the police department. Here are the town\u2019s 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\u2019s 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\u2019s 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\u2019s an annual salary range of from $51,293 to $59,842 in the 40-hour week, 52 weeks a year. For the highway department\u2019s \u201cdriver\/laborer\u201d position, or a parks and recreation groundskeeper with commercial driver\u2019s license, there\u2019s 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.