Sunday, December 20, 2009

Why Johnny Can Read a Balance Sheet

Today's Star Tribune included its annual list of Minnesota's largest nonprofits. It's always enlightening to compare the lists by sector to see the disparities in CEO compensation.

The stories that accompany the lists always note that Bill Kling at MPR and Joe Dowling at the Guthrie make over $600,000, but never make much note of the 10 different health care CEOs who make over $1 million each (and two more who make just shy of that).

But the salaries that really caught my eye were those of the heads of three private pre-K-12 schools: Blake, Breck and St. Paul Academy. Blake has about 1,400 students; Breck 1,200; and SPA has just 870 students. Despite these numbers, the CEOs are paid what I would consider disproportionately large salaries:

  • Blake $461,217 -- more than the salaries of the presidents of all but three of Minnesota's private colleges (only Macalester, Hamline and Carleton pay more). More than the salaries of the CEOs of every social services organization (including the United Way, which has a budget close to three times the size).
  • SPA ($381,009) and Breck ($373,357) -- more than the salaries of many college and university presidents, including St. Thomas, St. Olaf, Gustavus Adolphus, Augsburg, and Concordia. More than the salaries of the CEOs of all but four social service organizations (United Way, Lutheran Social Services, YMCA of Minneapolis, and the Wilder Foundation).
Combining the three schools' CEO salaries means they're paying $1.2 million to educate about 3,500 kids.

The schools' budgets range from about $34 million for Blake and Breck down to $23 million for SPA. Looking through the Strib's tables, organizations with budgets these sizes or even larger tend to pay at least $100,000 less per year, often for organizations that (I would assume) are more complex than schools with 870 to 1,400 students. For instance:
  • Courage Center. Budget: $42 million. CEO pay: $243,000.
  • Minnesota Historical Society. Budget: $47 million. CEO pay: $284,000.
  • Second Harvest Heartland. Budget: $51 million. CEO pay: $112,430.
As a comparison, Mounds Park Academy (another private, pre-K-12 school with 700 students and a budget of $20 million) pays its CEO $264,000. The difference between the Mounds Park and SPA salaries could have funded at least five full-tuition scholarships.

And I can't help noting that these numbers were published at almost the same time we heard that St. Paul's newly hired school superintendent will be paid $180,000 per year. There's probably a bit more involved in running an entire school system with 38,000 students than just one school with 870 students.

Note: Student body sizes are drawn from the schools' websites, if supplied there, or the Wikipedia if not. Budget sizes and CEO salaries are from the Star Tribune listings.

1 comment:

David Steinlicht said...

I have an urge to do two charts using the numbers you've compiled here. Student numbers and CEO pay numbers. Just not this week.