Collier Co. School Board to consider $305K Superintendent contract

Florida Politics | By Jacob Ogles | June 13, 2023

The Board voted 3-2 to hire Leslie Ricciardelli but is the price too high?

As Collier County School Board members ready to vote on a contract for a new Superintendent, more have criticized the proposed compensation.

The School Board is expected to vote Tuesday on a contract for Dr. Leslie Ricciardelli, now the Interim Superintendent. The Board voted 3-2 in May to promote Ricciardelli.

That vote at the time was seen as somewhat of a rebuke of Alfie Oakes, a local political kingmaker who heavily campaigned for a new majority on the School Board. But one of his favored candidates, Kelly Lichter, voted in favor of Ricciardelli, the internal choice, instead of bringing in former Clay County Superintendent Charlie Van Zant.

But some wonder if the proposed paycheck for Ricciardelli will undo her run as Superintendent before it begins. A contract calls for an annual base salary of $305,000, along with a $700 auto allowance and $2,100 in annual technology support.

The contract also calls for 20 weeks of pay should the Board terminate Ricciardelli without cause.

Conservative critics say the pay is out of line with similar school district heads in the state.

“Government at all levels spends entirely too much money. Dr. Ricciardelli is, by all accounts, unproven. Her out-of-touch demands for an unprecedented level of compensation is appalling,” said Collier County Commissioner Chris Hall.

“I was against the first offer of $285,000. $305,000 is simply outrageous. If our first-year teachers can be asked to live on $50,000 a year, surely Dr. Ricciardelli can find a way to make it on $285,000 a year. I would implore members of the School Board to negotiate a more reasonable contract.”

The pay would make RIcciardelli the fifth-highest paid Superintendent in the state, while Collier County has the 16th highest student enrollment of any Florida school district.

Oakes tried to sue to stop contract negotiations, saying the Board had ceded the process to a consulting firm, but a judge denied his request for an injunction, according to WGCU.

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