The Ascension Parish School Board is looking at a base salary in the range of $185,000 for its next superintendent, some 12 percent higher than the salary paid to the previous school leader, to be competitive in its national search.

Meeting as a committee of the whole Thursday, with representatives of its search firm, Ray and Associates of Iowa, board members arrived at the new salary range that’s approximately $20,000 more than the $164,000 a year paid to former Superintendent Patrice Pujol, who retired at the end of February.

“We’re serious about a national search,” board President Pat Russo told Bill Newman, a representative of Ray and Associates.

On Thursday, the search firm provided board members with information on the base salaries of superintendents for the 2015-16 school year in districts in the U.S. with similar student enrollment.

The Ascension Parish school district has approximately 22,000 students.

The salaries in eight other districts across the country ranged from a low of $152,000 to a high of $208,083.

School Board member Troy Gautreau noted the Ascension Parish schools superintendent salary is ranked eighth in the state, with the highest salary of approximately $238,000 a year going to East Baton Rouge Parish schools Superintendent Warren Drake, according to information from the state Department of Education.

The base salary being considered for the new Ascension Parish schools superintendent doesn’t include benefits, which would be negotiated at the time of hire.

Ray and Associates will be advertising the superintendent position in a number of national and state print and online outlets.

A survey on the qualities that teachers, students, parents and residents would like to see in the next superintendent also will be available soon on the School Board’s website,, and also in print form at schools, to help the School Board identify candidates.

The board expects to be interviewing its first round of top candidates the week of May 30 and interviewing its finalist candidates the week of June 6.