Taxpayers Suffer As Superintendents Prosper

April 11, 2022
TFR Staff
Public Education, Spending, Texas Education Agency

Last week the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released its most recent superintendent’s salary report to the public. The report includes some disturbing results and shows that the average superintendent makes considerably more than the average Texan.

The top ten highest-paid superintendents in the state all make above $340,000 annually. Compare that to the average Texan’s salary (around $57,000) and these self-proclaimed “public servants” are living like royalty. The reality is these superintendents contribute next to nothing toward the actual education of children within their school districts. The modern-day role of superintendents has primarily turned into a de facto lobbyist for teachers’ unions by consistently demanding the legislature allocate more taxpayer money for public education. This cat and mouse game has been going on for decades but most Texans don’t realize that most of their school administrators are living on ‘Easy Street’.

The numbers in the report do not even include the litany of other benefits many superintendents receive on the backs of taxpayers in their districts. Did you know that 22% of school districts provide a car allowance that covers all or part of their personal car expenses? The median car annual allowance is $6,000.  Other benefits include:

  • Dues for membership to civic, private, or professional organizations and clubs: 66 percent of respondents (431)
    pay dues for the superintendent. The median annual expense to the district is $1,000.
  • Allowance for cell phone and/or internet service: 40 percent of districts (259) provide the superintendent with
    this allowance. The median annual allowance is $1,200.
  •  Paying a portion of the superintendent’s required Teacher Retirement System (TRS) contribution: 17 percent of
    districts (111) reported paying a portion of the required TRS contribution. The median contribution is $14,553.
  • Contributions to a tax-deferred investment account: 12 percent of districts (78) contribute to an account for the
    superintendent. The median contribution is $10,000. Of those making contributions, 40 percent of districts (31)
    require at least one year of service for the district’s contribution to be vested.
  • Housing subsidies: 10 percent of districts (68) provide a housing subsidy. Of those, 49 districts provide a residence
    only, seven provide a housing allowance only, and 12 provide a residence plus housing allowance. The median
    housing allowance is $4,800.
  •  Allowance for business expenses: 8 percent of districts (50) provide the superintendent with this allowance. The
    the median annual allowance is $4,800.
  • Life Insurance, Long-Term Disability, and TRS Service Credit Purchase: fewer than 4 percent of districts provide
    these benefits to their superintendent.

Erin Anderson of Texas Scorecard recently reported that there have been a number of abuses by superintendents with these lofty salaries and benefits packages.

For example, Grand Prairie’s superintendent was being paid “$405,000 (the second-highest superintendent salary in the state), plus tens of thousands more in perks like travel and housing allowances, and annual “retention supplements” as high as $150,000—five times the district’s median income of $30,000. Yet she was caught spending another $160,000 in taxpayer money on home remodeling expenses that were never approved by the board. She also failed to notice that her chief financial officer had embezzled $600,000 in cash from the district.”

Last year, Round Rock ISD board members hired Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez at a salary of $350,000—almost $50,000 more than the district’s previous superintendent. Despite this, he spent months on (paid) administrative leave while authorities investigated a scandal involving domestic assault allegations from Azaiez’s girlfriend.”

The governor of Texas, who runs the 9th largest economy in the world makes $153,000 a year, yet somehow Texans are supposed to believe that our superintendents (who are no more than glorified bureaucrats with higher education degrees) deserve salaries and benefits that would make neurosurgeons jealous. Texas teachers would be wise to take a look at their administrator’s bloated salaries before continuing to throw stones at lawmakers for not allocating inordinate amounts of capital to wasteful school districts.

The timing of this report could not be worse for Texas public educators, as many are currently embroiled in scandals and receiving pushback from parents for grooming children on sexual orientation and hiding it from them. Not to mention, after years of tyrannical masking policies during the COVID pandemic, school enrollment dropped for the first time in Texas history (over 2%). Simultaneously, the number of families homeschooling has tripled in Texas. 

Parents and homeowners are growing weary of rising property taxes that fund school districts, only to be slapped in the face by overpaid superintendents that seem hell-bent on pushing woke ideology on Texas children. It is past time we start rethinking public education funding starting with the elimination of school property taxes.