Darien educators continue to bring home the bacon

Three school staffers got raises over 7% this year

Even though three of last year’s top 10 earners are no longer working in town, Darien Schools still employs 21 of the 25 highest-paid employees. The top 25 earn a total of about $4 million, about $100,000 more than last year.

Dr. Stephen Falcone, schools superintendent, remains the top earner, taking home $237,000 before taxes, a 3.3% increase over his salary last year, which was up 2% from two years ago.

Absent from the top 25, 50 and even top 300 highest paid employees is First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, who makes less than 310 Darien employees with her $80,000 stipend. Her salary is the same as last year, when she was No. 284 on the list.

Since high school principal Dan Haron retired last year, the No. 2 earners in town are assistant superintendents Matt Byrnes and Dr. Judith Pandolfo, who each take home $183,871, a 3.1% increase over their earnings last year, which had increased by a 1.5% over two years ago.

The fourth highest earner is Arlene Gottesman, the interim high school principal, who earns $175,000 this year. Haron took home $180,709 before he resigned.

Dr. Debi Boccanfuso, Middlesex Middle School principal, is the fifth highest town earner, bringing home $171,877, a 1.7% increase over her previous salary, which was 1.5% more than two years ago.

Coming in at No. 6 is new special education Director Dr. Deirdre Osypuk, who makes $166,654. Robin Pavia, the previous director, was also ranked sixth last year with a $163,788 salary, a 1.5% increase over the prior year.

Rita Ferri, Hindley School principal, and Keith Margolus, Royle School principal, take up the No. 7 and 8 spots on the list, earning $166,332 each, which is a 1.8% increase over last year’s pay. Last year they got a 1.5% raise.

Schools finance Director Dick Huot comes in at ninth, taking in $165,564, which is 3.8% more than what he earned two years ago. Last year he also got a $1,600 raise in his annual pay.

Following Huot on the list is another elementary school principal — Paula Bleakley of Holmes School, who rounds out the top 10, and up three places from her position last year on the earners list. Bleakley takes home $165,012 this year, which is a 7.2% increase from her previous salary. Bleakley took over last year at Holmes and was a former gymnastics coach in town and principal in Greenwich.

At No. 11 — and slipping one spot from her position last year — is high school assistant principal Ellen Dunn, who takes home $159,830, a 1.8% raise from her previous salary.

Last year, Dunn earned the same as Michael Sullivan, then assistant principal. Sullivan now earns $770 less than Dunn in his new position as athletic director, having taken over for retired director John Keleher. Dunn’s salary puts him at the No. 12 spot.

Tokeneke Principal Mary Michelson comes in at No. 13, making $158,015, a 7.4% raise over her previous salary. This is Michelson’s second year heading Tokeneke. She was formerly assistant principal at Royle.

Following Bleakly is Town Administrator Kilduff at No. 14, who is the highest paid town employee at $155,499. Kilduff was at the No. 13 spot last year and he got a 2.6% raise this year.

First year Principal Luke Forshaw of Ox Ridge School sits at No. 15, taking home $149,699. Forshaw replaced John Rechi, who was principal at Ox Ridge for 26 years. Rechi was at No. 7 last year with a $163,471 salary.

The next three positions go to Middlesex assistant principals Marc Marin and Andrew Byrne, and Carleen Wood, assistant director of special education, who each make $146,925, a 1.8% increase over last year’s pay, which was also the same for each. Last year they each got a 1.5% raise.

The next highest paid town employee after administrator Kilduff is Bob Steeger, director of public works, who will this year take home $146,499, a 1.5% increase over his previous salary. He got the same percentage raise last year, although he moved up one slot from No. 20 to No. 19 on the highest paid list.

The highest paid police officer, not including overtime, is Chief Duane Lovello, who will take home $145,149 this year, a 2.4% pay raise. Last year he got a 2.5% raise, although he moves up a spot to No. 20.

Town finance Director Kate Buch is up one position from last year at No. 21 with her $143,871 salary, a 2.5% raise. Buch did not make the top 25 list two years ago.

Also enjoying their second straight year on the list of top town earners are high school assistant principal Ellen Spark, IT Director Jeffrey Adams, and Early Learning Program Assistant Principal Laura Straiton.

Spark was the last of the top 25 earners last year, but she passed Adams, Straiton and another this year, picking up the No. 22 spot by pulling in $143,847, a 7.7% raise over her prior earnings.

Adams earns $141,254 annually, putting him at No. 23. He got a 2% raise this year, and he’s up one spot from last year. Straiton remains at No. 24 at $138,913, a 1.7% raise over last year.

Joining the top list for the first time is former Darien High School science teacher turned assistant principal Dr. Jacob Greenwood, who will take home $135,856 this year.

Factoring in overtime, several police officers earn more than Chief Lovello, which would also put several officers in the top 25.

Salaries account for roughly 70% of all town expenses. The schools employ 767 people, which is four more than last year. Of those, there are 94 people who earn more than $100,000 annually, which reflects 12.25% of the total workforce. Last year, only 10.4% of school employees made six figures.

The town employs 138 people, with 11.6% earning more than $100,000 annually.

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