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Bill raising cap on school superintendent’s pay advances

A cap on the salary Hawaii pays its schools superintendent would get a boost for the first time in 13 years under a bill — initially presumed dead for this session — lawmakers advanced out of conference committee Monday afternoon.

House Bill 2257 would raise the potential salary for the Department of Education’s top position to $250,000 from $150,000. The $150,000 statutory cap — set by lawmakers in 2001 — has kept Superintendent Kathryn Mata-yo-shi’s salary at that level the past three years, while at least two school principals earn more than she does.

The bill next heads for final floor votes before the Legislature adjourns Thursday.

The Board of Education, which proposed the higher cap, has stressed that the increase isn’t tied to Mata-yo-shi, whose contract ends June 30, but is needed to recruit and retain a quality leader in the future.

Among superintendent salaries for the nation’s 15 largest public school districts, Hawaii, the ninth largest with 180,000 students, ranks lowest with its $150,000 cap. The next lowest-paying district is Palm Beach County, Fla., which pays its superintendent $225,000 and ranks as the 12th-largest district.

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