Board eyes possible boost to education commissioner’s $246K salary

Massachusetts

Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeff Riley said Tuesday that all elementary and middle schools in Massachusetts are now offering full-time in-person learning and 99 percent of high schools met his deadline of May 17 to do the same. (Screenshot)

BOSTON (SHNS) – Members of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education gave Commissioner Jeff Riley high marks on his annual performance evaluation but opted to wait before making any changes to his pay.

At a Tuesday meeting, Vice Chair James Morton, said the performance review committee that he helms recommended “that we acknowledge the stellar performance of the commissioner during, again, one of the nation’s most difficult times.”

The panel gave Riley a 4.75 rating on a five-point scale and left his compensation level, typically set in conjunction with the annual review, to be determined at a future date, a decision Morton said he hoped would come “within the next few weeks.” Board Chair Katherine Craven said she has talked with her counterpart on the Board of Higher Education, Chris Gabrieli, and to Education Secretary James Peyser about “compensation and the amount of increases that are sort of being bandied about.”

“My proposal is to have the commissioner’s review commission meet again to discuss that, knowing that it will be in line with what the commonwealth’s leadership is getting,” she said.

Riley, who has served as K-12 education commissioner since 2018, is paid at an annual rate of $245,820, according to state payroll records. Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago’s annual salary is $233,127, and Early Education and Care Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy earns $198,000, records show.

Riley’s decisions around school reopenings, public health precautions and MCAS tests have at times come under fire over the course of the pandemic. Morton said Riley “provided tremendous support, courage and boldness during the time of COVID-19,” while making difficult choices and responding to emerging needs.

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