WILKES-BARRE — When the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board hired Brian Leighton as a home and school visitor last week, controversy arose when the minority complained he was not recommended by the interview committee, which includes no board members — and on the fact that he was the brother of Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton.
Speculation soon developed regarding Brian Leighton’s unannounced salary as well.
While the question of following policy remains unresolved, the salary debate is, at least for now, a done deal. Brian Leighton was hired under the teachers contract at a base salary for a first-year person with a bachelor’s degree: $41,365.
It’s one of the highest starting salaries for teachers in Luzerne County, but it’s still a big savings over the pay for the retiree being replaced, Stanley Pohutsky, with an annual salary of $80,001. That’s the second highest salary a teacher in the district can make, after at least 15 years experience and earning 54 college credits beyond a master’s degree.
Brian Leighton gets the base salary despite more than 20 years as an adult probation officer with Luzerne County because only years with the district typically count in placing an employee on the district’s step/column salary matrix.
“Step” refers to pay for years of service, and Wilkes-Barre Area’s first step is higher than most because the step doesn’t increase every year. Under the current contract, Brian Leighton will get a raise next year to $45,798, and will stay there for three years before the next step raise $50,741. He could, however, get different “column” increases, which are based on increased college education.
Pohutsky’s final-year compensation cost the district $107,736, including $3,060 for Social Security, $6,712 for pension, $486 for worker’s compensation insurance, $17,297 for medical insurance and $120 for life insurance. Brian Leighton’s total compensation for the first year is estimated at $54,063, with respective costs of $1,265, $2,801, $251, $8,261 and $120.
The teachers contract is expired and a new one is being negotiated, so amounts of raises could change.