Area’s superintendent salaries vary by district

Greg Drescher
Jeremy Raley
William C. "Chuck" Bishop Jr.
David T. Sovine

The start of a new fiscal year brings more paperwork for area school divisions, and with these changes come contract amendments for superintendents.

But arriving at a competitive salary isn’t easy, said Richard L. “Rick” Koontz Jr., chairman of the Shenandoah County School Board, and the decision is based on many variables, like education and experience.

The salaries of public figures are publicized, Koontz said, “and everyone sees the changes that are made. [But] the general public doesn’t always see all that goes on in making those types of decisions.”

This month, Warren County Public Schools welcomed new Superintendent L. Gregory Drescher, who succeeded Pamela McInnis.

Drescher, a first time superintendent of schools, was hired at a base salary of $154,000.

Superintendents in Shenandoah, Frederick and Clarke counties also saw an increase in base salary, which included adjustments for division-wide employee compensation increases — a mandatory 1.5 percent raise for all Virginia public school employees.

Their contracts also included deferred compensation plans, motor vehicle allowance and payments into the Virginia Association of School Superintendents and Virginia Retirement System.

All of these adjustments are fairly standard for public school superintendents, Koontz said. What isn’t standard is what superintendents from neighboring districts might expect to make or what districts can afford to pay them.

Shenandoah County Public Schools  Superintendent Jeremy Raley is on a four-year contract with an annual base salary of $128,000 — an increase over the $125,000 he was making as of January following a $6,000 increase approved by the School Board last June. When the district hired him in October 2013, he accepted the job for $119,000.

His latest $3,000 increase came as part of a 2.4 percent raise that all district employees received, Koontz said.

“We felt that Dr. Raley deserved that same change in his salary,” Koontz said. “He’s done a good job and the board was unanimous in the decision to make that change.”

Future raises for Raley could be tied to division-wide raises, Koontz added, “but we have the option to do something different if we elect to do so.”

Frederick County Superintendent David Sovine earns $179,009 after an average 5.5 percent across-the-board increase for division staff that took affect July 1. His previous base salary of $169,677 began last Aug. 1, 2014 — up from the $148,400 he received through a contract renewal on July 1, 2013, after three years with the school division.

Clarke County Superintendent William C. “Chuck” Bishop Jr., who made the switch from Augusta County Public Schools last summer, makes $142,000.

Before joining Clarke schools, Bishop had been a superintendent since 2006, when he joined Radford City Public Schools. Previously, he was assistant superintendent of operations in Augusta County from 2001 and principal at Riverheads High School from 1998.

He has a master’s degree and a doctorate in administration and supervision from the University of Virginia.

Upward mobility and pay adjustment can depend on an administrator’s education and experience — but not always. It also might depend on one’s years with the same school system.

Drescher, a resident of Warren County for more than 30 years, joined the county school system  as a teacher in 1987. He was assistant principal of Ressie Jeffries Elementary School and principal of Hilda J. Barbour Elementary School before becoming director of administrator support in 2002 and later assistant superintendent for instruction.

Drescher has a master’s degree in administration from George Mason University. The courses he took through UVA, Virginia Tech, George Mason, James Madison University, Shenandoah University and Eastern Mennonite University fulfilled the credit hours he needed to apply for and receive a Virginia superintendent license.

Raley and Sovine both have doctorates, Raley’s is in organizational leadership from Shenandoah University and Sovine’s is in administration and supervision from UVA. Raley has two master’s degrees, one in education from Shenandoah and one in teaching from UVA.

Both are first-time superintendents of schools, and both began their careers as physical education teachers.

When hired by Frederick schools in 2011, Sovine had 21 years in public education, most recently as executive director of K-12 curriculum and secondary education with Spotsylvania County Public Schools.

Raley started teaching in 1998 before becoming an assistant elementary school principal in 2001. In 2007, he was hired as director of finance for Shenandoah County schools and later became assistant superintendent for administration and finance.

Raley’s $6,000 salary increase last year came as a surprise to some area residents, particularly since he had become superintendent only eight months earlier, but Koontz defended the School Board’s decision.

“I think he’s still on the low side when it comes to superintendent salaries,” Koontz said.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or

Superintendent compensation by the numbers:

(Population estimates as of 2013 census information)

Frederick County
David Sovine
Base salary: $179,009
Annuity: $16,970
Vehicle allowance: $7,632
2016 fiscal budget: $181,267,128
Number of students: 13,025
Number of employees: 2,052
Number of schools: 20
County population: 81,319
County size: 416 square miles

L. Gregory Drescher – Warren County
Base salary: $154,000
Annuity: $8,000
Vehicle allowance: $3,000
2016 fiscal budget: $51,707,337
Number of students: 5,308
Number of employees: 805
Number of schools: Eight
County population: 38,699
County size: 216 square miles

Clarke County
William C. ‘Chuck’ Bishop Jr.

Base salary: $142,000
Annuity: $10,000
Vehicle allowance: Business vehicle provided by School Board
2016 fiscal budget: $21,538,675
Number of students: 1,953
Number of employees: 317
Number of schools: Four
County population: 14,248
County size: 178 square miles

 Shenandoah County
Jeremy Raley
Base salary: $128,000
Annuity: $10,000
Vehicle allowance: $6,000
2016 fiscal budget: $60,482,925
Number of students: 5,965
Number of employees: 994
Number of schools: 10
County population: 42,684
County size: 513 square miles

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