February 4, 2014

Mirror Mirror, Who Is The Highest Paid Of Them All?

Yesterday, the Missouri Auditor’s office released its audit of the Lee’s Summit R-VII School District. Relatively speaking, it was a pretty clean audit. The district has not been flouting state law by passing students on who are well below grade level. Nor has the district overpaid its construction manager to the tune of $1.2 million. In comparison, Lee’s Summit’s infractions are minor: more than $116,000 in no-bid contracts, not managing transactions on the 900-plus purchasing cards issued to district personnel, purchasing a piece of land for $775,000 without an appraisal. You know, no big deal.

What has shocked people the most about the audit may be the salary and benefit package that the superintendent receives. The report noted:

The district’s superintendent at June 30, 2013, was Dr. David McGehee. His annual compensation was $258,660, which included a deferred compensation allowance of $19,716, family medical insurance of $15,377, and association expenses of $12,000. He was also provided a district vehicle for business and personal use.

Let me be clear. That is $258,660 plus those other benefits. None of this should come as a shock to readers of the Show-Me Daily blog. In 2010, we published a policy study detailing the actual pay of public school superintendents in Missouri and we noted that many receive significant perks.

One of the things we highlighted in that paper was that there seemed to be no correlation between academic performance of students and the compensation of the superintendent. From just a cursory glance, this seems to be the case here. From 2009 to 2013, the percentage of Lee’s Summit students scoring proficient or advanced in math and language arts has remained almost unchanged. Other districts, however, have improved and Lee’s Summit has dropped in the rankings. In 2009, the district was in the top 35 districts in terms of performance on the math and language arts exams. The district since has dropped to 90th and 53rd, respectively.

In approximately the same time frame, the superintendent’s salary has increased dramatically. In 2007, he was paid a salary of $170,000. In the seven years since then, he has received a 52 percent raise. According to data that the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education collects, this makes him the highest-paid superintendent in the state.

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