Educators dominate Darien’s top paid in 2016
Updated 10:32 am, Thursday, January 26, 2017
DARIEN — The town’s top 10 paid employees in 2016 were, with only two exceptions, Board of Education employees.
Superintendent of Schools Daniel Brenner, who took on the role in 2015, was the top earner by more than $73,000, with a total salary of $265,074.60. Many of the others populating the list are Brenner’s colleagues at 35 Leroy Ave.
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Susie Da Silva and Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and student Services Shirley Klein make $191,622 and $191,182, respectively. Meanwhile, Director of Finance and Operations Michael Feeney and Director of Human Resources Marjorie Cion made $179,269 and $171,655, respectively.
“The salaries offered are both a reflection of the high standards the district seeks for these positions as well as a reflection of the performance provided by employees in these positions,” said Board of Education Chairman Michael Harman.
Several school principals, too, were among the top earners.
Darien High School Principal Ellen Dunn’s $189,664 salary tops the salaries of Holmes Elementary School Principal Paula Bleakley and Tokeneke Elementary School Principal Mary Michelson, each of whom made $171,477.
Top 10 paid employees, calendar year 2016:
1. Daniel Brenner, Superintendent of Schools, $265,074
2. Susie Da Silva, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, $191,622
3. Shirley Klein, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Student Services, $191,182
4. Michael Cummings, police officer, $190,674
5. Ellen Dunn, Darien High School principal, $189,664
6. Donald Anderson, police captain, $184,344
7.Michael Feeney, Board of Education Director of Finance and Operations, $179,269
8. Marjorie Cion, Board of Education Director of Human Resources, $171,655
T-9. Paula Bleakley, Holmes Elementary School principal, and Mary Michelson, Tokeneke Elementary School principal, $171,477
The salaries, according to Harman, are a way in which to draw top talent to the district.
“The district's success is closely tied to its ability to recruit and hire highly qualified personnel as well as then to retain the best staff. The administration also recruits from a wide geographic area. Many employees accept a long commute to work in our district and it is clear that salaries are an important consideration for many hires,” Harman said.
The two non-Board of Education employees on the list are both members of the Darien Police Department. Captain Donald Anderson, who has been a member of the force since 1983, pulled in $183,344 in 2016, though roughly $40,000 of that was earned through extra-duty contract work, as Anderson, a salaried employee, does not receive overtime.
Still, Anderson was not the top earner. That honor goes to Michael Cummings, an officer who earned $190,674 in the last calendar year.
An officer could beat out the likes of the Captain or Chief because of overtime. According to Director of Human Services, “A large portion of police overtime is for private duty assignments which are not funded by taxpayer dollars.”
“There are a group of officers that work at least six days a week. There are also some officers of course that work their regular work week,” Anderson said.
According to Anderson, base salaries for Patrol Officers of Cummings’ experience are $88,179.
“This guy, he’s a hard worker. That’s how he goes from $88,000 to $190,000,” Anderson said.
Extra-duty contract work could include, according to Anderson, working Darien High School hockey games, school open houses, events at the Depot, Town Hall or YMCA, or road work.
“A lot of it is road work because we have town ordinance if you’re opening a road you have to get traffic control from the police department first. If police can’t fill it then you can get off-duty flagger. Since we have been very busy with construction in Darien a lot of our officers can work every day,” Anderson said.
“I had to work pretty steadily. That’s how I pay for my daughter’s college education.”