Friday, March 25, 2005

Who Says That People Can't Get Rich In Public Education?

This is the story of one of those Educators that has gotten rich in public education. The Ft. Worth, Texas School Board is set to sign a $300,000 per year contract with Melody Johnson to lead the Ft. Worth public school system.

I wonder if she will be as condescending as our superintendent, Dr. Evil?

Superintendent Evil loves to "crack wise" about how, "We don't become educators to get rich." Yeah, right. The Middletown Elementary School District consists of only 9 small-to-midsized elementary schools and two middle schools, and his contract is said to be worth over $200,000 per year. (salary, benefits, car and other perks)

Similar to teachers unions, Superintendents negotiate their contracts with their governing boards. We have some concerns regarding Melody Johnson's contract
The contract, which has not been made available to the public in its draft form, will include a car allowance as the only other compensation for Johnson, who is expected to start before the next school year begins in August.

Koehler said that Johnson's salary may be the highest of any superintendent in the state -- at least until Dallas names its next superintendent -- but that she will not be getting an annuity, incentive bonuses or other financial perks that drive up the costs of compensation packages given to other superintendents across the state.

I am very bothered by the fact that this contract is not available to the public. Our republic has a long tradition of open government, and "secret contracts" for any public employee are not in keeping with this tradition.

Board Member Koehler indicated that there are no "hidden benefits" such as "annuities, incentive bonuses, or other financial perks" in the contract. I guess that we will just have to take his word for it, won't we?

Another thing that has always galled me is that these superintendents expect to get a car "thrown in" by the taxpayers in addition to their already high salaries. This woman is set to earn almost a third of a million dollars to start. Can't she buy a car out of her own salary as her classroom teachers are expected to do?

In the interest of full-disclosure, I must say that I've never liked "perks" for public officials. I especially don't like perks for folks that often bleat to their employees that said employees can't have a 1% annual raise because "We have to all tighten our belts and pull together" due to tight budgets.

Additionally, I've never liked hypocrisy in a leader, and their is plenty of hypocrisy to go around in public education.

But Johnson is not alone when it comes to demanding (and getting) special "perks:"

Houston, about 209,000 students: Abe Saavedra earns $270,000, not including a monthly car allowance of $1,200 a month and an information technology/communications allowance of $400 a month. He could also get tens of thousands of dollars more in performance incentives, depending on student achievement.

Fort Bend, about 62,000 students: Betty Baitland is paid $216,000 a year plus a "doctoral stipend." She also gets a mobile phone and a car allowance of $600 a month.

Cypress-Fairbanks district in Houston, about 79,000 students: David Anthony is paid $235,000 plus a car allowance. The district also pays into an annuity on his behalf. Anthony also gets a district-supplied laptop computer.

Northside district in San Antonio, about 74,000 students: John Folks is paid $224,600 plus a car allowance of $800 a month and contributions to retirement plans.Traditionally, superintendents negotiate their contracts with their governing boards. Most choose to use an attorney.

As a teacher that has actually used his car in order to visit students and do other school business, the "car allowance thing" really bothers me, especially as our superintendent, Dr. Evil, has never used his to visit teachers, parents, students, or anyone else in this small town.

It has been well documented, however, that Evil does use his taxpayer-provided Mercedes-Benz to "go over the hill" to his real home on the coast every weekend.

Knowing this, I guess that we teachers should not find it strange that each school administrator here in the community of Middletown, California receives a non-taxable monthly gas reimbursement of $60.00 per month. And of course, Dr. "E" gets his gas money, too.
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