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Estrella’s $301K earnings top City Hall’s 2021 list

Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Alexandra Estrella, at a recent Board of Education meeting.

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Alexandra Estrella tops the list of City Hall paychecks for 2021, but Norwalk Police officers are right behind her.

Estrella’s $301,475 salary total, as reported by the Norwalk Finance Department, is just $10,237 ahead of the next person on the list, NPD Officer George Daley, at $291,238.

There are 15 police officers on the list before you come to the next Norwalk Public Schools employee, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Hamilton, at $212,237. Hamilton is now retired.

Norwalk Police officers earn money above their base salaries by taking extra duty assignments for private companies and by putting in overtime for the city. The city gets a 15% administrative fee for every hour of extra duty worked by police officers, City staff has said. Overtime actually saves the city money as the price of benefits is high and there is a need to cover emergencies, according to former Common Council members. Overtime doesn’t count toward an officer’s pension and is often paid for by federal funds, asset forfeiture funds or state funds, officials have said.

With 181 officers authorized, the department is down to 166 sworn officers, Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik said in November.

The top 25 breadwinners:

  1. Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Alexandra Estrella, $301,475
  2. Norwalk Police Officer George Daley, $291,238
  3. Norwalk Police Officer Russell Ouellette, $288,649
  4. Norwalk Police Officer Mark Suda, $285,011
  5. Norwalk Police Sgt. Gregg Scully, $272,608
  6. Norwalk Police Officer David Nieves, $272,380
  7. Norwalk Police Officer Javier Mogollon, $267,490
  8. Norwalk Police Lt. Thomas Mattera, $267,184
  9. Norwalk Police Officer Hector Delgado, $248,677
  10. Norwalk Police Sgt. Peter White, $234,016
  11. Norwalk Police Sgt. Richard Delallo, $229,271
  12. Norwalk Police Sgt. Kevin Markert, $225,626
  13. Norwalk Police Officer Christopher Kassimis, $224,606
  14. Norwalk Police Sgt. Joseph Moquin, $221,152
  15. Norwalk Police Lt. Terrance Blake, $219,525
  16. Norwalk Police Lt. Marc Lepore, $218,116
  17. Norwalk Police Lt. Paul Resnick, $215,990
  18. Norwalk Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Thomas Hamilton, $212,237
  19. Assistant Superintendent of Digital Learning and Innovation Ralph Valenzisi, $209,635
  20. Norwalk Police Officer Daniel Vazquez, $207,450
  21. Norwalk High School Principal Reginald Roberts, $205,870
  22. Norwalk Police Officer Louis Proto, $205,185
  23. Norwalk Police Officer Shoubert Paulemon, $204,327
  24. Norwalk Police Sgt. Angelo Calise, $202,441
  25. Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations Sandra Faioes, $202,302

 

Board of Education members gave Estrella a raise and a one-year extension on her contract in June. Estrella was hired for the 2020-21 school year with a $275,000 base salary and a $15,000 annuity. Her contract was extended through the 2023-24 school year and her base salary was upped to $284,625, with a $17,400 annuity.

Then-Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski earned $284,126.87 in 2019.

Let’s look at the top earning education staff:

  1. Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Alexandra Estrella, $301,475
  2. Norwalk Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Thomas Hamilton, $212,237
  3. Assistant Superintendent of Digital Learning and Innovation Ralph Valenzisi, $209,635
  4. Norwalk High School Principal Reginald Roberts, $205,870
  5. Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations Sandra Faioes, $202,302
  6. P-Tech (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) Director Karen Amaker, $200,046
  7. Center for Global Studies Director Julie Parham, $200,046
  8. Assistant Superintendent of Schools Rob Pennington, $199,478
  9. Curriculum and Instruction Site Director Shannon Roman, $198,661
  10. Roton Middle School Principal Joseph Vellucci, $191,300
  11. Ponus Ridge Middle School Principal Damon Lewis, $191,300
  12. Columbus Magnet School Principal Medard Thomas, $190,551
  13. Education Administrator for School Support and Improvement for Humanities (K-12) Janine Goss, $189,800
  14. Cranbury Elementary School Principal Jennifer Masone, $189,278
  15. West Rocks Middle School Principal Adam Reynolds, $189,238
  16. Education Administrator for School Support and Improvement for STEM (K-12) Tina Henckel, $188,719
  17. Brien McMahon High School Assistant Principal Barbara Wood, $188,397
  18. Education Administrator for Counseling & Social Services, Homebound Instruction, and 504’s James Martinez, $188,069
  19. Education Administrator for School Quality Heidi Pierovich, $186,189
  20. Marvin Elementary School Principal Sue-Ellen O’Shea, $186,028
  21. Naramake Elementary School Principal Jane Wilkins, $185,278
  22. Wolfpit Elementary School Principal Jacquelyn Aarons, $185,018
  23. Kendall Elementary School Principal Zakiyyah Baker, $184,528
  24. Executive Director of Leadership Development Mary-Anne Shepard, $184,222
  25. Chief of Staff and Communications Brenda Wilcox Williams, $183,784

 

The list was provided by Norwalk Communications Manager Joshua Morgan.

2021 salary list pt I

2021 salary list pt II

30 comments

David Osler January 18, 2022 at 8:28 am

We’re paying a lot of these people way too much other towns don’t pay their principles that much and the cops might say they have a dangerous job they don’t need to make twice as much as Navy seals

Georgie Palisades January 18, 2022 at 9:28 am

Because most teachers are afraid to speak up under this tyrant who rule with an iron fist.. I am here to say it. Norwalk Public School is in danger. Estrella you just have to look up her history, it is not a good track record.

The Norwalk education department is failing our kids. What does Estrella do that she deserves that much money? She is going to leave us with the check and move on to another school district.

Why does she make almost as much as the President of the US? Norwalk Public School is being scammed.

Piberman January 18, 2022 at 10:18 am

Reportedly Norwalk, CT’s 48th highest per capita income community ($43,149 per capita Wikipedia 2019) reportedly pays CT’s highest Supt salary even though CT’s Education Dept website shows Norwalk’s school grads fail to meet CT Edu standards for maths and sciences. And that most Norwalk grads fail to ever secure a 4 yr college degree.

Reportedly Norwalk’s public schools match teacher salaries with our surrounding towns where virtually every student meets CT Edu requirements and secure 4 yr college degrees with many students securing top college admissions. Our surrounding towns are justifiably proud of having some of the best public schools in the nation. Their BOE’s are highly respected and positions coveted.

Neither Norwalk property owners nor our parents are well served by a BOE that pays top salaries but fails to meet CT Edu Dept standards for our graduating students. Our students, their parents and our property owners are poorly served by our BOE that fails to secure higher performance from our public school system.

Reportedly our BOE did not follow previous City BOE’s led by Attorney Mike Lyons and use a prominent national search firm to secure a top ranked candidates for the Supt position. Nor has our BOE in demanding major budget hikes demanded higher performance from our highly paid school administrators.

For those of us who came from modest family circumstances and achieved the American Dream helped by competent public schools the lack of student achievement in our City public schools is very disappointing. Unless our City demands higher student performance our BOE is unlikely to change directions. Where are the promised higher student performance expectations with higher budget demands ?

When we came to Norwalk decades ago Norwalk had a strong reputation for its public schools. Our son secured a first class education as did his friends most of whom secured academic achievement scholarships and have successful careers.

Failure to meet CT Education Dept graduation standards ought propel a conscientious BOE to demand much better performance. Why not publicly list colleges where students gain acceptances ? And list the scholarships obtained ? The ones hurt by a low achieving public school system oft are our students from our minority families and new immigrants. And certainly our City’s reputation as a transient City where students do not return to secure their families and careers is embellished.

Long past time for City parents, leaders and everyone to demand the BOE secure much higher student achievement. Do it because “its the right thing to do”. And to improve our City’s reputation. Our City’s leaders need demand much higher leadership from our BOE. Not just giving out high salaries. If we really love our kids why not give them a first class public school education ? We pay the monies.

John O'Neill January 18, 2022 at 10:57 am

Two thoughts for today:
Except for the fact that it’s my money I find the Board of Ed salaries hysterically funny. In fact, someone from Central Office makes $200k per year
to read posts like mine on NON. Just think about that for a second.

Regarding Police Salaries — I don’t fault those guys for bringing in the cash basis their contract with the city. It’s not their fault our elected officials agreed to those contracts in the first place.

Norwalker January 18, 2022 at 11:14 am

So basically, going by base salary without the overtime the BOE tops the list. With the Super making almost 100k more than the next highest.

Audrey Cozzarin January 18, 2022 at 12:19 pm

Wow, I’m not sure what to say, as there is SO MUCH i would like to say. I know this is public information, but now that I see where my tax dollars are going, I don’t mind asking these city employees for a hand-out/donation when city departments say they can’t provide traffic enforcement and proper maintenance at our city parks, among other expenditures that we “just can’t afford because we’re trying to keep your taxes low.”

Hmmm… Seems like we have plenty of tax dollars to pay a LOT of people a LOT of money. I guess I’d like to see more evidence of how these highly-paid folks add to the quality of life here in Norwalk. Right now, I am very stunned. Thank you, Nancy, for highlighting. I’m sure the comments will be coming in.

Piberman January 18, 2022 at 1:53 pm

Where are the comments by City residents defending the high salaries of our School Superintendent and senior Administrators as appropriate ? Ought Norwalk’s School Supt be paid more than a 4 star Army General ? Federal Cabinet ministers ? More than most private school Directors and college Presidents ? Is the job really worth that much than City Mayor or CT Governor ? Supt’s job worth more than the surgeons who routinely save lives at Yale/Smilow hospitals ? Has the problematic performance of our kids in our Norwalk public schools where most grads fail to meet CT Edu standards noticeably improved in recent years with our Supt earning a reported top salary in CT ? Is the job really worth 5 to 6 times the salary of our school teachers ?
There’s a good reason our BOE has never defended our Supt salary. A non-starter.

Norwalk Parent January 18, 2022 at 2:23 pm

NPS well below average, nearly all parks in Norwalk look run down and not maintained, and a NPS “Welcome Center” that is not needed in any way. Not the mention the run down state of nearly every NPS building.

But sure, these salary numbers for NPS employees and our awful superintendent make PERFECT sense.

Norwalk Resident January 18, 2022 at 4:40 pm

Let’s not forget that our BOE decided to give Estrella a raise 1 year into her 3 year contract (and extend her contract by a year). Yet there are many teachers and admins who’ve stated that she has created a toxic culture and leads by fear. She’s made numerous poor hiring decisions (unqualified principals, countless friends from her old district making $180k+, Michael Patterson without a proper background check) and so many more. Many principals on “administrative leave.” Lots of quiet consultants making outrageous money. Great leaders leaving the district. Quiet exiting of staff (Scott Hurwitz??). Slashing magnet funds. Putting in a welcome center yet in a “budget crisis” and keeps asking for more money from taxpayers.

Oh, and multiple lawsuits against her that she is actively trying to settle quietly. One of which claims she texted the plaintiff that she actively recruited the interviews questions verbatim prior to the interview. She’s isn’t fit to be superintendent and certainly has no business being the highest paid in Norwalk (and third highest in the state).

Seriously? January 18, 2022 at 6:28 pm

You have it all wrong. The superintendent’s $300,000+ salary is the least of the problems in Norwalk.

The high-paying positions she has created (and add to the salaries the huge cost of medical and other benefits), the people she has put into some of the jobs, the budget she has convinced the Norwalk Board of Sheep (Education) to approve, and the welcome center that the district doesn’t need, are far greater problems. And then there are a couple of lawsuits because of her actions. Win or lose, the city is on the hook for at least the legal costs, and very possibly for significant damages.

And I give separate mention to the deterioration in morale in the district. How many people have resigned or retired already this year? How many more will leave this spring? How many more have already announced that they will leave in June? DO NOT USE COVID AS AN EXCUSE because all districts face Covid, but I don’t know of any that are losing staff the way that Norwalk’s school system is losing it. This once was a district that was known for great stability among its employees, but not anymore. And I doubt that the superintendent cares, especially because she has a pipeline of NYC people who continue to come to Norwalk.

This superintendent was a very bad choice, but the board doesn’t have the intelligence to recognize the problem and it probably lacks the courage to address it.

Justataxpayer January 19, 2022 at 8:44 am

Wow. Just wow!! I thought police officers were underpaid and couldn’t afford to live locally because it’s too expensive here. When slots #2 through #17 are cops, something just seems wrong. $275k a year? We should have the Batman on the force

Oversight January 19, 2022 at 11:24 am

Remind me – what does she DO for $300k per year? How have student outcomes improved during her tenure to warrant a raise and extension of contract? Where’s the data to support this? Were the Central Office salaries (totals) YOY presented or shown during the budget approval phase? There seems to be A LOT more bodies in that building than in the previous 5 years. The City would be fools to approve the BOE budgets without data and student outcomes clearly provided.

Tony P January 19, 2022 at 12:37 pm

Should have been a cop – everyone’s focused on Estrella, but…#’s 2-17 on the list are all cops paid over $215k. Sweet gig.

Piberman January 19, 2022 at 1:46 pm

Puzzling why our City leaders seem indifferent to the growing public dissatisfaction with our public school system that goes well beyond excessive salaries and lack of student achievement meeting CT Edu standards. Our BOE seems indifferent to basic management practices such as using national search firms to secure the best talent. Members rarely write in our newspapers or other forums. And when seeking public officer offer little other than a desire to serve.

Lists of college acceptances and student scholarships have difficulty getting public attention. Our BOE seems preoccupied with building new schools. Not securing first rate education for our kids. Long term residents remember when our BOE attracted our most qualified City residents and BOE meetings were packed with hundreds of residents.

If we’re going to secure major improvement in our public schools our City’s leadership needs focus much more attention and encourage our best qualified residents to seek seats on our BOE. Many of us remember the dedicated competence of former BOE Chair Mike Lyons who demonstrated it is possible to attract and retain nationally top ranked Superintendents. Lyons reached out to City residents and often responded daily to a dozen or more e-mails from City residents. Best of all he demonstrated we could attract highly qualified Superintendents and retain them. We ought be proud of our public school’s system achievements. Not bemoan over paid school administrators.

Dsppppp

Michele A January 19, 2022 at 3:58 pm

These salaries are not accurate. At least mine is not. They have me listed as making 10,000 more per year. My W-2 says something much different. I’m wondering where these numbers came from.

Seriously? January 19, 2022 at 4:06 pm

A couple of thoughts:

With regard to a police officer who can work enough overtime to be paid over a quarter million dollars a year, I wonder how many hours per week the officer is working. I also wonder how alert and energetic an exhausted police officer can be.

With regard to the school system, people had better wake up before they face a school system that has lost too much of its best teaching talent, because with that loss there will be a major deterioration in academic achievement. With that deterioration, families that have the means will leave the school system, and even leave the city. With an exodus from the school system and from the city, there will be a great loss in property values.

DryAsABone really shocked me with that link to the news story about the Stamford superintendent of schools, whose total compensation now exceeds $400,000, and the board of education there is even reimbursing her her mandatory contributions to the state retirement system. Understand that these are contributions that she will eventually get back many times over in her pension. Even if she never collected the CT pension, she could withdraw all of her contributions. So why is the school system reimbursing her?

I don’t know anything about Stamford’s board of education, but I would guess that Norwalk’s Board of Sheep is capable of being inspired by that kind of give-away contract. It is time for a meaningful Norwalk taxpayer demonstration of anger about school system spending. This has to stop. The superintendents in Stamford and Norwalk can’t point to student outcomes that justify salaries anywhere near the salaries that they receive, and Norwalk can surely not justify the enormous payroll in its central office — which should include the staffing at the Parent/Welcome Center.

Admiral January 19, 2022 at 6:00 pm

I’m not in education, so somebody please explain this to me. How can any employee who doesn’t work directly teaching our kids, make more than the teachers who work directly with them in the classrooms?
For instance, how can a superintendent or somebody sitting in a chair at Central Office make over 4 or 5 times what a classroom teacher makes? How is this right?

Snarkman January 19, 2022 at 11:39 pm

Be thankfull you don’t live in Texas where the HS football coach tops the list.

Notice there were no Engineers or Health Care professionals on the list.

M Murray January 20, 2022 at 6:31 am

Tony P- the Norwalk police are currently hiring. Go for it. Expect to work many extra hours during the week and probably doubles on your scheduled days off, vacation days, and holidays to break the 200,000 mark.

David Muccigrosso January 20, 2022 at 7:27 am

Nice to see NPD’s still killing it on the overtime.

Given national cop salaries, those are literally 1%-er wages.

Piberman January 21, 2022 at 11:23 am

Always been puzzling why our BOE sets salaries equal to surrounding wealthy towns and why our Common Council ignores the very large disparities in student outcomes.
Excessive school budgets/taxes aren’t fair to City homeowners. Underperforming public schools aren’t fair to our students, homeowners or our City. Isn’t our Common Council supposed to require an affordable BOE budget. Not just pass whatever our BOE offers up ?

As long as our Common Council just passes through the BOE budget not much will change. Years ago our BOE was our pride and joy. Those who served with distinction went on to serve on the Common Council. That progression gave us Council members well versed on how our City works. Years ago when vacancies arose in our BOE there was no difficulty in selecting from a sizable group of volunteers truly knowledgeable about how our public schools works.

Years ago our BOE meetings were well attended with local citizens. Many of us recall active discussions took place. Now its a different story. If we want a much better public school system we have to encourage our citizens to take an active interest, volunteer and come to meetings. Our $300k + salary to the Supt.- reportedly tops in CT – sends out a clear message our City residents aren’t paying attention to our public school system. A Supt paid 4 to 5 times a teachers salary is sending up a red flag.

If we want a much better fiscally responsible school system we can’t just point fingers. We need a far more involved citizenry. Our surrounding towns have first rate public school systems because of citizen involvement. Beginning with their BOE public meetings. A good first step is encouraging residents to attend BOE meetings. And raise questions. So that our local newspaper can shine a light on what happens or doesn’t happen. We need a public school system that works for our students and taxpayers. Time for City residents to roll up sleeves and get to work !

Piberman January 21, 2022 at 9:16 pm

Reportedly the average Professor at UCON earns $240k annually. A figure that’s twice the national average. That’s roughly equal to the average doctor/surgeons salary at Yale Medical School. In CT teaching public college pays about the same as saving lives in hospitals.

So why to make of a $300k salary for a Norwalk Supt ? Was that salary required as the result of a national professional search to obtain the best available talent from the national pool of applicants ? Does student performance at Norwalk schools suggest such a salary is warranted ?

Is a Supt’s job twice as demanding as that of a CT Governor or major CT large City ?

Asking questions like these suggests our BOE hasn’t done its “homework”.

Piberman January 22, 2022 at 10:09 am

We’re making progress. So far no reader has suggested we “need” to pay a Supt $300k to secure a Supt managing public schools failing to meet CT Edu standards.
Or that other school Districts are using Norwalk for “guidance” in setting a Supt salary. Nor has anyone offered reasons why a Supt ought be paid 5 to 6 times a teachers salary when the real work is in the classroom by teachers. Nor has anyone suggested that our Supt’s “achievements” are worth the large differential over former Supt Adamowski viewed by many as our best Supt ever. So far no one has come forward with a scholarship named honoring our Supt.

The Supt’s unusually high salary – reportedly tops in CT – causes distress because its suggests poor oversight by our BOE. How can our BOE in good conscience pay CT’s top Supt salary when most of our kids are failing to meet CT Edu requirements ? That our BOE members remain silent here speaks loudly.

We need a major effort by our City’s leadership to recruit BOE members that will provide the “best oversight’ of our school system. Not members embarrassing us with excessive salaries and failing to do national professional searches. We need BOE members with as good a dedication and backgrounds as our surrounding towns.

A personal observation. In virtually every walk in life great accomplishments are made by teams. Not by the General or corporate CEO. That’s certainly true in hospitals where CEO’s typically earn several times what their top surgeons earn – about $300k. About a dozen years ago a team of half a dozen surgeons at Yale worked around the clock doing a surgery on me they all knew “had no chance of success”. They made medical history. Each earned less than our Supt. They’re motivated to save lives. Why should we expect less from a School Supt. If a Supt earns top dollars ought we not see “top results” ? It ought not be about the “monies”. The job is just too important.

The brouhaha about Norwalk’s excessive Supt salary ought be a clarion call to our BOE and City leaders to pay much more attention to our challenged public school system. It ought be done because “its the right thing to do”. They’re our kids taught by our caring teachers in classrooms. Not by administrators behind desks.

Piberman January 28, 2022 at 10:21 pm

Is the problem here the high salaries paid our public school administrators or lack of acceptable achievement of our school grads ? Our surrounding town residents don’t complain publicly about school administrator salaries. But take great pride in their students achievements. And take great pains to elect BOE members with impressive backgrounds able to oversee public school administrators.

What prevents Norwalk’s public schools from securing similar student achievements as our surroudning towns ? Is it a “competence problem” in how our schools are managed ? Or something else ? BOE not up to the task ? Students inherently less capable ? Teachers not up to the task ?

Those of us whose kids have graduated from the City schools usually agree that the problem is not the teachers. If we’re to make serious progress in improving Norwalk’s student outcomes we need look to our BOE’s oversight of our school administrators. If we’re not electing BOE members up to the task why expect any real improvement ?
Isn’t that the task of our politician leadership to encourage highly qualified City residents to serve on the BOE ? Ones with the backgrounds able to provide demanding performance from our public school administrators. Why is it so difficult to encourage well qualaified City residents to serve on our BOE ? Our surroudning town residents know that’s the key ingredient in securing a well performing public school system.

Bob January 30, 2022 at 7:18 pm

Well said George. And I have another question for everyone what happened to the bonuses that teachers were supposed to get during the Covid-19 pandemic for all of the hard work and sacrifices they made these past two years? Did these bonuses go to the Superintendent and her staff as well?

s February 7, 2022 at 10:49 am

Wow. Norwalk is an underfunded school district with no money to fix it acs and fans but the super gets 300k for what? the kids are faling behind, the schools are behind, where do we have this kind of money to spend? what’s happening here- looks like a free for boe

James Neilson February 9, 2022 at 10:25 pm

WHY ARE NPS TEACHERS GETTING COOKIES INSTEAD OF BONUSES?

Teachers are upset this week after learning that other public school districts like Stamford and Bridgeport are receiving thousand dollar per person bonuses for all of their hard hard work and sacrifices during the pandemic, but Norwalk Teachers are only getting a packet of cookies. What is going on in this Public Education system. Tax payers in Norwalk want to know.

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