Take a Gander at School Supes’ Perks

Apr 12, 2011 by

Donna Garner – Could I suggest that superintendents’ contracts be posted online for the whole world to see BEFORE the superintendent is hired?

Finally, the reporters at the Austin American-Statesman Politifact have done their homework. After many of us for a long time have asked reporters to dig into school superintendents’ compensation packages and not just their publicly announced salaries, the AAS has finally done just that.  Please read the excerpts from AAS article posted further on down the page.

The good people at Austin KXAN.com actually led the way for the AAS reporters. It was KXAN.com that first had the courage and perseverance to post 40 supes’ contracts online.  As you click on each of these contracts, you will be able to find the perks for yourself. Superintendents’ contracts are public documents, and the taxpayers have every right to see them. Could I suggest that superintendents’ contracts be posted online for the whole world to see BEFORE the superintendent is hired?


After you find out what perks the supes are receiving, then you need to raise cane about the fact that these same school administrators (and school boards) are the very ones who are making the decisions to lay off classroom teachers and/or increase the number of total students that teachers will have next year.

Let me make a statement based upon my 33+ years in the classroom:  When the superintendent is gone for the day from his office, almost nobody in the school district even notices.  When a classroom teacher is gone from his classroom, there must be a substitute teacher hired; and definite plans must be made ahead of time along with catch-up responsibilities when the classroom teacher returns.  In the life of a child, which person is more important?  If indeed it is the classroom teacher, then he should be the last to be laid off because of budget cuts.

Donna Garner




4.11.11 —  Excerpts from this article:


But there’s more to superintendent compensation than salary: The district leaders also receive perks — which vary considerably among districts — such as bonuses and car allowances. We wondered how those compare among Texas superintendents with the highest base salaries.

That information proved tougher to get. Ratcliffe [Debbie Ratcliffe, Texas Education Agency spokeswoman] told us that the education agency doesn’t keep data on superintendents’ total compensation packages.

The school board association tracks the most common extras, including allowances for cell phone or home Internet service, bonus payments, professional organization membership dues and car allowances, Barrett told us — but the data is only for use by association members. However, she did say that the top 10 compensation packages ranged from $338,000 to $443,000. Thomas’ [Carroll Thomas, Beaumont ISD superintendnet] salary alone puts him in that group.

We attempted to conduct our own total compensation analysis, starting with Thomas. Beyond his $347,834 salary, Thomas’ contract shows that he receives a monthly “supplemental allowance” of $1,000. And Jessie Haynes, a spokeswoman for the district, told us that Thomas’ annual health and dental insurance benefits are about $6,800. The district also pays about $10,500 a year in premiums for his life and professional legal liability insurance and about $1,500 a year in membership dues to professional and civic organizations.

That brings Thomas’ total package to about $379,000. How does that compare to his counterparts?

Of the superintendents with the highest salaries in Texas, we were able to track down enough information to calculate nearly complete totals for Melody Johnson of the Fort Worth school district (No. 4 in TEA’s salary rankings) and Grier of the Houston district (No. 6 in salary).

Johnson, whose district has about 80,000 students, earns an annual salary of $328,950 and receives an automobile allowance of $600 per month. According to district spokesman Clint Bond, the district also pays $1,426 per year in membership dues to a professional organization, $4,475 for an annual disability insurance premium and $2,940 for health insurance. Johnson’s total: about $345,000.

In addition to his $300,000 salary, Grier receives $1,200 per month for an automobile allowance and $400 per month for a cell phone, according to his contract. The district also pays $2,485 annually for dues and fees to professional and civic organizations, and this year, Grier will get $21,150 in supplemental salary payments. In January, the district paid $30,000 into a special retirement account for Grier, in addition to awarding him a performance-based bonus of $18,001 for the 2009-10 school year.

Grier’s total, without health insurance: about $391,000.

Our research also indicates that the total compensation package of Dallas school district Superintendent Michael Hinojosa is likely bigger than that of Thomas. Hinojosa’s salary of $332,832 — in a district that serves more than 150,000 students — ranks third on the education agency’s list of superintendent salaries. Add to that $450 per month for his cell phone, $23,464 in extra payments to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and a $15,000 annuity, and you get more than $376,000.

That doesn’t count professional dues, annual premiums for disability and professional liability insurance, performance-based bonuses,and health insurance — all benefits noted in Hinojosa’s contract. We requested that information from the district but had not received any answers as of press time.

In the Austin school district, which has about 86,000 students, Carstarphen’s benefits include $12,000 a year for automobile allowance, a $15,000 annuity and $5,377 in health insurance. The district also pays $9,953 per year for a long-term disability insurance policy and $1,046 for a life insurance policy. And in August, Carstarphen was awarded a bonus of $41,500 for meeting performance goals for the 2009-10 school year. (She has waived any bonus tied to this school year.)

Her total: about $368,000.

Readers may note that none of these compensation packages approaches the $443,000 high-end figure mentioned by Barrett; we’re still awaiting information that would confirm which district is spending that amount.

We checked in with lawyer Neal Adams, who, according to the Tribune’s March 25 story, has negotiated most superintendent contracts in the state since 1987 as general counsel for the Texas Association of School Administrators. When we asked him whether he knew of any superintendents with higher compensation packages than Thomas’, he said he didn’t have specific numbers but that there were probably some…

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