This week the district with which I have worked for around 20 years awarded its superintendent a contract that pays her a bonus of $200,000 if she stays for 5 years and guarantees her a buyout of the remainder of her contract + annuity contributions of $34,000 a year for the remainder of her contract term should she be terminated for anything other than “just cause,” a phrase which is unfortunately not defined in the contract and is probably largely meaningless. At the present time she is earning $207,000 + $6000 car allowance and her annual $34,000 annuity contribution. Around a quarter of a million a year in round numbers.
The school board cited several reasons for their salary (hair) raising decision.
The board president stated that the contract gave the superintendent more security in lieu of a pay raise. A $200,000 bonus over 5 years seems to be about $40,000 per year or about a 20% increase on her current salary annually if my math is even close.
Board Members were concerned that she might leave after being a finalist for a superintendent position in another city earlier this year. She withdrew her application for the job after the interviews. Its my understanding that the job actually paid less than her present position. I must ask why she applied, why she withdrew, and what exactly is her commitment to her current job if she was willing earlier this year to interview for a job that paid less. Or was she just playing her current school board like a cheap banjo?
Board members stated that they reviewed retention policies of other districts before awarding the bonus but were unable in public interviews to say which districts were reviewed or how exactly the $200,000 amount was actually determined.
The board stated that keeping her will keep other top administrators from leaving the district, a review of her last 5 years shows that nearly every significant central administrative position in the district has turned over including nearly all high school principals, and a majority of the middle and elementary school principals
The board cited that fact that it might cost as much as $12,500 to hire a consultant firm to conduct a search for a new superintendent. Lets see 12,500 divided by 200,000 and so a possible cost of around 6% of what they are guaranteeing to her would be at risk and their hands would not be tied by a nebulous “just cause,” clause with a “cherry” buy-out on top .
A board member said they couldn’t put a dollar number on the value of consistency in the superintendent’s position but seeing that they cited consistency as the reason for paying the extra $200,000 it seems that they have.
I believe 4 of the current board members who voted for this are up for election this year. The potentially perhaps even hopefully outgoing board members have effectively tied the hands of any incoming board, reduced the options of any newly elected members and in effect given the superintendent a huge club that she need not ever even bring out of her pocket as it is now sitting there in the open on the board table.
Last year our superintendent received a raise while the district had an $11,000,000 budget shortfall, was cutting some salaries, changing job descriptions to entail more work for less pay, did away with around 100 educational contact positions as well as other positions and was cited for certification and budget misappropriation violations by the state board of education. It should also be pointed out that the “district” over which she presides has hired her sister to be the principal of a charter school and now her sister’s boy friend to be a high school principal. Although perhaps above-board these hires must call into question either her judgement or arrogance given the job cutting that is going on elsewhere in the district.
Now the board chooses to reward the superintendent at whose desk the buck apparently now does “stop” with in effect a 20% a year guaranteed no cut raise for the next five years. Indeed Mark Twain got it right when he stated that, “God created idiots for practice and then moved on to school board members.”