Contracts show raises for top administrators

Contracts show raises for top administrators

CUMBERLAND – The town’s two top administrators have received raises, according to contracts released by the Cumberland School Department.

Assistant Supt. Antonio DiManna will receive a raise of $17,000 by the end of his newly signed three-year extension with the Cumberland schools, from $126,718 this year to $143,639 in the 2020-2021 year.

Supt. Robert Mitchell will also see an increase in his new one-year deal with the district, going from a $160,471 base salary to $163,471 in the 2018-2019 year.

Both men will also get one-time bonus payments in the 2018-2019 year equal to 1 percent of their base pay. For Mitchell, that’s a $1,634 bonus, and for DiManna, that’s a $1,387 bonus in year one of his deal, based on a first-year salary of $138,718. DiManna’s salary in year two will jump to $140,136.

The Breeze requested the contracts for the two top administrators nearly a month ago, after the School Committee approved them on May 24 (Finance Chairman Paul DiModica was the lone no vote), but they were not released until last week due to the fact that the two men hadn’t signed them yet.

School Committee Chairman Ray Salvatore told The Breeze Mitchell made the recommendation to increase DiManna’s salary significantly to bring the pay gap between the top two positions more in line with other districts.

“He’s almost making what principals make,” he said.

New Cumberland High School Principal Adolfo Costa is receiving $112,000 in base salary in 2018-2019. Former Principal Donna Charlton, who remained with the district for about half of the 2017-2018 school year before departing, but was paid for the whole year, had a base salary of $116,000.

According to a Breeze review of the Rhode Island Municipal Salary Survey of 2017, 10 superintendents in the state were making more than Cumberland’s for that year, while nine assistant superintendents were making more than Cumberland’s. A number of districts do not have an assistant superintendent, according to the survey.

DiManna, a Cumberland resident, is a “major asset” to the district on many levels, from curriculum development to filling in as principal of the high school, and “a guy we want to keep happy,” said Salvatore.

The chairman issued a “no comment” on the question of why Mitchell received a one-year contract instead of the three years awarded to DiManna. He said all other non-union employees also received three-year contracts, making Mitchell the only administrator not to receive a longer deal.

Both DiManna and Mitchell issued statements this week on their new contracts with the district.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to continue the work that I have begun over the past three years,” said DiManna. “Our district has made gains in state proficiency performance, and we continue to set our sights on becoming a top performing district in the state. The students in Cumberland deserve a high quality education and my office is here to ensure that this remains a focus. My team and I are ready to take on the challenge the superintendent has set forth: to be a top 5 performing district. I appreciate the support of the superintendent and the School Committee members for this renewal.”

Mitchell, a Westerly resident, also emphasized the work going forward.

“As I have said many times, I am honored to be the superintendent of schools for the Cumberland school district,” he said. “We have been working very hard to improve the quality of education in the town of Cumberland. Our most important task is to improve the academic performance of all students. We know that in order for our students to improve, everyone working in the district needs to continue to grow professionally as well. I look forward to being a part of the good work happening here.”

Both top administrators are entitled to 20 days of vacation per year. They also pay 20 percent health insurance co-shares, according to their contracts.

Mitchell was appointed superintendent in 2015 after having served as assistant superintendent for four years. He replaced Supt. Phil Thornton, who resigned to accept the position as superintendent of Warwick Public Schools. He previously served as principal of Chariho High School for 12 years.

DiManna was appointed assistant superintendent in 2015, promoted from a position as principal of B.F. Norton Elementary School, where he’d been named top administrator three years earlier at age 36. DiManna had spent five years as a physical education and health teacher at Times Squared Academy charter school in Providence, and another four years as that school’s elementary principal. He came to Cumberland after a year spent as principal of Clayville Elementary School in Scituate.


Here we go again, taxpayers are taxed out, the education department keeps asking for more money, " its for the kids," and we keep paying it. I am sorry, I would like to see the list of superintendent pay, those making more, are they bigger communities, more responsibilities? And, Bonus Pay on top of raises, what, they aren't making enough? When is someone in Town government going to watch out for the taxpayer? Elections are coming, I think that it is time for a new school committee.

Hate to break it to you but guess what: highly specialized individuals that make big, impactful decisions cost money. If you don't offer attractive salaries, you don't get competent talent.

I think *teachers* should be getting paid more as a whole, but those numbers aren't unreasonable for high-level administrators.

BTW I agree that oversight is a good thing so that you don't spend needlessly, but those numbers are just reality. You're not going to change that by voting out the school committee.

And these bonuses are for what again?

It is going to get a lot worse, a heck of a lot worse...that is if the Voters of this Town don't start paying attention to what is taking place.

That being especially true regarding whom are the "The Tax & Irresoncibly Spend Even More" Candidates for the School Committee, the Town Council...more-so, the Mayor's Office whose names will be on this September's Ballot.

Many of these are the same people that have supported 'Ad Nauseum' reckless spending...and now, as with this article, you can see where those dollars usually wind-up.

But, again, remember: "It's All For The Kids"!

Oh, and don't forget what was announced last week...they are also going to be looking for a $83-Million Bond, alleged needed because, to a large extent, of they not properly using the money the Town has given the School System, and The School Committee, every supposed to be used for maintenance and upkeep.

Unfortunately, as has been de Rigueur for way too long, it was spent and wasted elsewhere...that, along with Obscence Salaries, Perks and Benefits...again, Sexplained kn great detail in the abkbe article, has allowed for this deterioration.

The Public needs to be provided with these Obscence and Ludicrous Contracts...the terms, conditions, language, etc.

I once forced this with an Administrator's contract, threatening legal action while on the Finance Committee, and discovered secretive terms, language, etc. that allowed for that administrator to improve his salary by 50%.

How many citizens are aware that since the mid-90's forward, we have rebuild, remodeled, expanded, etc. Every School in this Town (all "9" of them) to the tune of close to $100-Million Dollars.

As a matter of fact we are still paying off that debt, and we have a way to go, to the tune of, about,$4.6-Million Dollars a year to pay it off, and they want more?

Of which, about, almost $1.5-Million a year is Intetes6t.


And, under whose watches did a lot of this "Irresponcible Not Caring For Our School System's Buildings" take place...and whom have constantly promulgated that we need spend even more??

One is already serving in office, that shouldn't be...and the other wants to run for Mayor.

"highly specialized individuals that make big, impactful decisions cost money. If you don't offer attractive salaries, you don't get competent talent."
Did you just move to Cumberland? Pretty sure it was Mr. Mitchell that made the decision to high a principal that didn't last 6 months then just hired another principal that didn't last 3 months in another district. You call that competent talent? The right money for the right person. Yes, but no raise was needed here.

Why is it the the "talent" running the schools asks for huge increases in school funding every year while the Town side, which has substantially lower salaries, runs a fairly flat budget year to year with only minimum increases?

More people should consider running for School Committee because their budgeting is way out of control.

I understand what you are saying about paying people, but, is this an informed decision? Is this the proper salary? What do other supers and asst. supers make? I suspect that Cumberland is in the high end. Had they threatened to leave, why the raises of that amount? Why the bonuses, for what? Aren't they making enough? Every year it is the school department asking and demanding more money, and are taxes are increased every year to give it to them.
I am sorry, I can not accept that this is the way is has to be. There must be more accountability. I truly wish that I had more time to run for the Committee. That budget needs more scrutiny. I sincerely hope that there are people who are willing and able to step up to the plate on this.

It takes money to retain top talent and Mr. Mitchell and Mr. DiManna have done an excellent job of moving the district forward, continuing the legacy of Dr. Thorton. Remember when the High School was in danger of losing it's accreditation? In Mr. DiManna's case his salary was significantly lower than market conditions, internal equity, and work-product demanded. The School Committee understands the need to be careful with spending of taxpayer monies and these raises are just that. We are trying to retain top talent and maintain momentum, momentum that has been generated by previous expenditure of taxpayer dollars. The impact and cost of losing leaders like Mr. Mitchell and Mr. DiManna would far outweigh the increases their positions saw. Mr. DiManna and his staff have done an incredible amount of research into teaching and learning in the district. Anyone who has not attended the Achievement Subcommittee meetings where he has presented his findings and recommendations has missed a master class in educational assessment and data analysis. Mr. DiManna has been and will continue to be instrumental in propelling the district forward, especially in our efforts to improve test scores in historically lower-performing schools. We need to narrow the achievement gap and Mr. DiManna and his efforts are critical to the success of that endeavor. Mr. Mitchell has continued and improved upon the efforts of Dr. Thornton to improve achievement in town, and the test scores bear the results of those efforts.

And while the naysayers will complain about how much these men earn the immutable truth is that Cumberland spends far less than its peers on education, while still holding their administrators to high achievement expectations. That's not a scenario that allows you to retain top talent without appropriate compensation. The bonuses were employed with these and other administrative positions to provide non-compounded increases, lessening the impact in later years of the contracts. Instead of raises which would be compounded in years two and three of the contract they received late year payment bonuses equal to 1% of their salary. Mr. Mitchell's total compensation is unchanged from last year because his "raise" was the result of adjusting his travel stipend to something more appropriate and resulted in a better reflection of his actual compensation. Mr. Mitchell will get a 1% non-compounded, one-time payment at the end of the fiscal year. Mr. DiManna will receive a base pay increase to reflect market and internal equity conditions as well as the superb job he has performed in his role, and a 1% non-compounded, one-time payment at the end of the fiscal year.

Cumberland does not have a spending problem, despite what you read in the comment section here and regurgitated by our current mayor. Cumberland has a revenue problem. And that problem rests squarely on the shoulders of Broad Street. Years of unchecked residential growth to benefit a handful of politically connected contractors, poor municipal fiscal management (remember junk bond rating days and increased OPEB contributions?), a tax strategy that favors business far more than our neighboring towns, and a financially parasitic charter school have combined with state and national pressures to bring us to today. Cumberland education: bottom five in spending, top nine in overall results. Nationally recognized Blue Ribbon Elementary school. This district turned out a National Principal of the year based on improvements at the High School. If you have legitimate ideas on how we can do better, or even the same, for less money then please do not keep it to yourself. Come to School Committee meetings, we meet twice a month, the meetings are advertised, open to everyone, and best of all FREE!

Here is some other food for thought on Cumberland's "outrageous" taxes: Back in May I gathered data on the 22 elected officials in Cumberland and compared their 2018 tax bills to 2008. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI inflation calculator (January 2008 to January 2018) to calculate the value of a dollar and public real estate tax records from OpalWorks Municipal Tax data this is how we fared over the past decade: Of the 22 members that comprise the School Committee, Fire Committee, Town Council, and Mayor (as of late May 2018). When adjusted for inflation, five of us pay more in taxes than we did in 2008. Seventeen of us pay less in taxes now than we did in 2008, that’s 77% of us. Three of us actually pay less on a dollar for dollar basis than we did a decade ago. Let that sink in. Less on a dollar for dollar basis than a decade ago. The combined annual savings of our 22 households for 2018 is $4,372 when compared and adjusted for 2008 taxes. If one were to assume that’s representative of the town as a whole and extrapolate the data out to Cumberland’s 13,500 households it equates to $2.68M less in inflation-adjusted tax revenue being collected now than in 2008, or a $2.68M tax cut for the residents of Cumberland compared to 2008.

By the way AlfaRacer, you also fall into that category of those who pay less now than a decade ago ($97 on a dollar for dollar basis, $456.74 when adjusted for inflation). You also paid less in 2014-2017 (dollar for dollar) than you did in 2008. Gotta go back to 2006 to pay less than you do now. Also, we have eight schools in town, not nine (five elementary, two middles, and a high school).

Steve Hess
Cumberland School Committee, District Five
Proud Parent of a NCMS student

for the kids, but ONLY if I'm paid a six figure salary at minimum and if people can't afford to pay my salary and bonus, well too bad.

I think you are wrong about paying less now then years ago given the home values have gone up. even though the rate has been adjusted we are still paying more. I think math is a big part of the school committees problems. There is a huge spending problem and school board members whining about the public perception on these boards does not help what the town thinks. As long as there is this much waste (i.e paying the former principles contract out when it was not warranted) there should be no pay increases, as they are not deserved. while we are on the subject of waste why was the former principles full compensation package paid out when she left on her own accord, which according to her contract should of = ZERO. PLEASE MR HESS ENLIGHTEN US!

"Cumberland education: bottom five in spending, top nine in overall results. Nationally recognized Blue Ribbon Elementary school."

Maybe we are bottom five in spending, but you give us nothing against which to judge it. Bottom five spending per student, overall budget, per resident? What does it mean?

Top nine in overall results? I haven't seen anything like that stated anywhere. I'd love to see a reference for this statistic. But since it includes all schools, and is most likely propped up by the Blue Ribbon school, it matters little.

Nationally recognized Blue Ribbon Elementary school. I'll accept that, and I'm sure I know which school it is.

It's nice that we have a highly rated elementary school, and the middle schools are fine as well (my experience with the staff at NCMS when I had kids there was very positive). The problem is, the high school stinks. Students don't go from elementary school (or even middle school) into the workforce, they also don't go to college from elementary school. They do it from high school. And Cumberland's high school is a poor one. It ranks in the bottom half for the state, and its rating is declining, not rising. One school ranking site has it rated a 5 out of 10. Common comments about the high school are very similar to my experiences with it.

As an aside, I don't care if the prior principal was highly praised. Personally, I thought he received his accolades because of the many liberal policies he implemented; policies which go a long was towards impressing folks who vote on things like principal of the year.

As I noted above, my experience with NCMS was positive, actually, it was very positive. The teachers showed real concern for the welfare of my kids, and went out of their way to let me know how things were going. When my kids got to the high school, it was the exact opposite. I couldn't believe how hard it was to get the same information and help out of the high school folks that I got from the middle school folks. It was awful. Needless to say, not everybody was bad or difficult, but I can honestly say that most were.

I find it interesting that at one time the high school had comfortably more than 2,000 students. And yet it didn't have the science wing, and it didn't have the wellness center / gym it has now. Yet the smaller version of the school with the much larger population of students did a much better job of educating the students. I think too many folks in the town are impressed with things like expensive turf for the main athletic field, a science wing, a wellness center, and any other number of things that are nice but don't make kids and more knowledgeable. When one considers the facilities the high school has, one has a reason to expect much better results from the school. But the reality is Cumberland spends a lot of money on its high school and gets very poor results in return.

Finally, what is possibly my biggest pet peeve: the ridiculously early time classes start at the high school. I pity the Cumberland kid who has a part-time job or plays a sport that has late games on school nights. Those kids no not get enough sleep. If my memory is still working, I believe the early start time started in the late 80s due to construction on Mendon Road. Yet when all was said and done the start time never went back to what it had been prior to construction. As a result there are high school kids in town that have to get up very early to get ready and catch their bus. And they spend a lot of time waiting for the bus in the dark.

Well, I've done my venting. I personally would have no problem with Cumberland spending in the manner which Mr. Hess seems to believe is necessary, if the results were better, much better. But as it stands, I believe the town does not get a fair return on what it pays for its educational system.

banshee350jg: My figures are based on the actual real estate taxes in each year and the difference in monetary value based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics Consumer Price Index (CPI) (links below). For example: The real estate taxes on my home in 2008 were $5,765. In 2018 they are $6,188. 2018 taxes were more than 2008 on a dollar for dollar basis to be sure. But the value of a dollar changed in the intervening decade. If one takes the value of $5,765 as of January 2008 and adjusts it for January 2018 that value is $6,769 according to the BLS CPI calculator. When one compares my 2018 tax bill of $6,188 to my 2008 inflation adjusted tax value of $6,769 the difference is $581 in 2018 dollars. The home of one mayor was subject to $6,237 in taxes in 2008. In 2018 the tax was $7,174. Again, more on a dollar for dollar basis but when one calculates the value of the 2008 tax of $6,237 in 2018 dollars it would be $7,323, a difference of $149 in 2018 dollars compared to the actual 2018 tax. But some are actually paying less in whole dollar amounts than they were ten years ago. The taxes of one fire board member in 2008: $2,549; in 2018: $2,294. That’s not inflation adjusted, they actually pay $255 less today than they did ten years ago. Adjusted for inflation it’s $699 less. One Town Councillor’s taxes in 2008: $3,085; in 2018: $2,969; $116 whole dollars less; Adjusted for inflation: $653 less. Five paid more when adjusted, seventeen paid less. But even accounting for those who saw an increase the sum total was a reduction, as I indicated earlier. That’s how I arrived at my calculations, 2008 taxes adjusted for 2018 using CPI and then compared to 2018 taxes.

I see little evidence that Cumberland has a “huge spending problem”, at least as it relates to education (and seemingly many other things on the municipal side). It defies logic to have a huge spending problem when you’re spending less than most everyone else. Look at the RIDE Per-Pupil-Expenditure numbers and Cumberland has been at or near the bottom of educational spending for years. Cumberland has a revenue problem and has for some time. Looking at the tax rolls, for three years in a row (2014, 2015, 2016) taxes were flat, they didn’t go up at all. Unsurprisingly, the cost of goods and services did go up during that time. This was a point of contention when our current Mayor went to the State House asking for additional state education funding. He boasted of not raising taxes for two years in a row to which one of the ranking members of the Senate Finance committee responded, “Your bills don’t go up every year? Because I know mine do”. I’m happy to have someone explain to me why Cumberland’s costs are lower or rise less than other cities and towns, thus warranting lower spending and flat taxes. On the income side we seem to fare better than average by at least one measure. According to the R.I. Department of Labor and Training (2012-2016, 5 year income estimates based on US Census data): Cumberland had the 16th highest median household income, 15th highest median family income, and 13th highest per-capita income (out of 39 cities and towns). If memory serves we had the lowest business tax of any neighboring town based on Councillor Kane’s presentation at last year’s budget meetings. Not sure how we fare this year. It’s all part of the overall picture of revenue and spending in town, open to interpretation and opinion.

As for the Charlton situation, I cannot divulge any more information than has already been made available publicly. Unlike our current mayor, who recently made what can at best be described as ill-advised comments on public radio about a highway department worker that the town is already in litigation over, I won’t engage in specific commentary on personnel matters. Personnel matters are private for good reason, not the least of which is the potential for litigation arising out of public discussion of them. It is easy to Monday morning quarterback a situation and certainly knowing what we do know I’m sure we would have taken a different course of action with regard to hiring Mrs. Charlton’s in the first place, as it obviously didn’t work out as intended. Anyone who has ever been in a hiring position knows that sometimes things just don’t work out. I believed then and still believe now that Mrs. Charlton’s departure was handled in the best interest of the high school, district, and taxpayers, given the circumstances. That may come as little solace to you and others but those who believe the most plausible and reasonable explanation is that the entire School Committee and district administration are incompetent fools who care nothing for their fiduciary duty to taxpayers have had a vastly different personal and professional experience than I have.

Anyone who personally knows the members of this School Committee can attest to our passion for improving the quality of education in town. We are all parents with children who currently (or have previously) attended schools in town. We have skin in the game, our own flesh and blood to be precise. We are also all taxpayers. We also want to get the most out of our tax dollars. Despite what some may think and say, being wasteful with funding is not compatible those goals. Nor is wasteful spending compatible with the achievements the district has realized over the past several years. Having served with the other members of the School Committee I know we all want what’s best for the town and its children. It’s a sad commentary that we are repeatedly mocked (along with the teachers and administrators who have dedicated their professional lives to that endeavor) for saying such a thing. So jaded are some that it’s seemingly unfathomable to them that we could harbor genuine community-oriented goals with no sinister or ulterior motives. I simply offer another perspective on the situation. If that’s whining then so be it.

RI Tax Rolls:
US Bureau of Labor and Statistics CPI Calculator:
RI DLT Income Levels:


Bibbit: bottom five (actually bottom two as of last year just above Woonsocket and just behind Pawtucket for public districts) in Per-Pupil Expenditure as compared to the other cities and town districts in RI. Top 9 in overall PARCC scores last year. Superintendent Mitchell has mentioned this publicly on multiple occasions, including the recent Town Council budget hearings (I’m sorry I don’t have a link at the moment). The Blue Ribbon School was Community School. I wholeheartedly agree that more work needs to be done across the board. The strategic plan calls for Cumberland to become a Top 5 district. That requires improvement across the board. Continuous improvement should be the mantra of any organization. However I think it’s debatable whether it’s reasonable to expect results should come before the resources necessary to achieve them. It’s precisely your sentiment that should scare the hell out of anyone in a position of power in this town because if enough people decide that schools weren’t good enough for their child, thus they become disenchanted and unwilling to help the next generation then the whole endeavor falls apart; it becomes a race to the bottom.

CHS graduation rates over part of Mr. Tenreiro’s tenure:
National Principal of the Year Rubric:
Blue Ribbon School:

"This was a point of contention when our current Mayor went to the State House asking for additional state education funding. He boasted of not raising taxes for two years in a row to which one of the ranking members of the Senate Finance committee responded, “Your bills don’t go up every year? Because I know mine do”."

So, what you're saying is that because costs go up pretty much every year, taxes should go up every year? How much, 1%? Cumberland was first settled in 1635, and was incorporated in 1746. Of course we've only been part of the US for about 242 years. Are you saying that if we had a 1% tax in 1776, we should now have a 242% tax? Seems to me that pretty much follows your logic, and that of the Senate Finance Committee member.

I'd also like to ask you a question regarding the budget. Why do the education numbers not include bond money paid out for schools? Cumberland has been paying out millions of dollars per year to pay off school bonds. Why is that not factored into the expenses?