Reflecting Westport's tradition of generous education spending, records released by the town's Finance Department and Board of Education show that public school employees again dominated the list of the town's highest-paid personnel in 2011.

Education employees earned eight of the ten largest compensation packages and accounted for 37 of the 50 highest-paid town employees last year. In 2010, education personnel comprised seven of the 10 highest-paid town workers.

Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon was the highest-paid public employee in Westport by a large margin, earning about $285,000. Landon also topped the town's salary list last year. The Board of Education last June approved a two-year contract extension for Landon that raised his annual salary by 2 percent to a total of approximately $288,000.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Nancy Harris was the second highest-paid town employee, with a salary of about $204,000, followed by Cynthia Gilchrest, the school district's director of pupil services and elementary education, who was paid $165,000.

Salary expenditures account for almost 70 percent of the town's current-year $98 million education operating budget, a ratio that does not fluctuate much on a yearly basis because of contractual obligations.

Westport's public employees' salaries are warranted by their performances, said Board of Finance Chairman Avi Kaner.

"You get what you pay for. Across the board, our services in Westport are really excellent," he said. "And when you look at our school system, which is so large and complex, you need a really good chief executive officer and support staff to run the operation."

Police Field Training Officer Howard Simpson was fourth-highest on the overall list -- and the top earner outside the school system -- with total pay of about $164,000. Simpson had a 2011 base salary of approximately $77,000, but his compensation was significantly augmented by overtime and other additional payments.

Simpson was also the highest-paid municipal employee in 2010.

Total compensation for municipal employees includes base salary, overtime, as well as pay for longevity, holidays and fitness incentive awards. The town does not pay for outside work performed by police and fire personnel.

Police Officer Anthony Falbo was the second highest-paid municipal employee and fifth-highest overall with total compensation of about $158,000. His compensation also included approximately $65,000 in outside pay.

Bedford Middle School Principal Melissa Paolini and Staples High School Principal John Dodig took the sixth and seventh spots on the top 10 list, with salaries of approximately $157,000 and $156,000, respectively.

Susie Da Silva, principal of Kings Highway Elementary School, had the eighth-highest compensation, earning about $154,000. Lis Comm, the school district's director of secondary education and research and professional development, took the No. 9 spot, also earning about $154,000. Natalie Carrignan, the school district's director of instructional technology rounded out the top 10 list, with a salary of about $153,000.

Police Chief Dale Call was paid a total of approximately $131,000, making him the 44th highest-paid town employee. At No. 46 on the list, Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury also was paid about $131,000.

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, who was paid approximately $101,000 last year, was not among the 50 highest-paid public employees.

Compensation for the 50 highest-paid town employees in 2011 totaled approximately $7.2 million, equating to about 4 percent of the approximately $179 million current-year budget approved last year by the Representative Town Meeting.

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