The school board of a North Texas school district is forcing taxpayers to provide its head administrator with perks never before seen in Texas. The school board has barely flinched under criticism, even since recent news reports exposed the district’s absurd policies.
School debt financed through bonds – and repaid with higher property taxes – cannot be used on teachers’ salaries or other operating costs. Regardless, districts have pushed voters to pass massive bond debt – claiming it’s necessary “for the kids.”
In the case of Grand Prairie Independent School District, some of that “necessary” debt was used to buy a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house the district leases to their top administrator, Dr. Susan Hull. The home sits on five acres of land, has a three-car garage and a swimming pool, and is valued by the Dallas Central Appraisal District at $413,520, according to a Fox News report.
The report said the district plans to use the home for “instructional activities” in the future, but officials did not provide specific details or a plausible explanation.
“It’s all about the flexibility,” a district spokesman said. “We can do just about anything, ranging from training to onsite development with students to the instructional part of it. It could vary. It could really vary.”
Apparently, Hull isn’t expected to pay for her own mortgage despite receiving a $360,000 annual salary, which makes her the highest paid superintendent in North Texas, and the second-highest paid administrator in the state. GPISD is also going to pay Hull a $60,000 bonus for each of the next three years, if she stays. Given the outrageous perks she is receiving, she likely will.
Hull pays $2,000 per month to lease the property. But her contract provides a $1,000 per month housing stipend. In other words, she pays next to nothing out of her own pocket to rent the property. Shockingly, Hull says she entered this arrangement to “help” the district pay for the property.
“I thought I could help the community by temporarily renting the smaller house on the new Garner support property to, in a sense, help buy down the purchase price of the property until it is developed into additional instructional or staff development space.”
This is a ridiculous statement. Hull’s $1,000 contributions to rent the home are paid from her excessive salary, which also comes out of taxpayers’ pockets. And remember, she’s paid $25,000 a year more than the next highest paid superintendent in North Texas, Dallas ISD’s Michael Hinojosa. If you add her $60,000 retention giveaway on top of her unexplainable $25,000 salary boost, it more than covers the meager $12,000 in annual rent that Hull pays.
GPISD taxpayers, with a median income of $30,000 per year, probably won’t be too quick to send Hull thank-you cards for “helping” them.
This shouldn’t sit well with parents or teachers. The cost of administrative staff, such as Hull’s compensation, comes out of the same bucket that pays for teachers’ salaries. I’m sure most taxpayers would agree that the nearly $100,000 per year in ridiculous perks to Hull could be alternatively put in a bonus fund for the district’s top performing teachers.
It’s time for taxpayers to call on the board to renegotiate her agreement, even though it was just renewed, and at least force Hull to pay for her own home. The GPISD board should be ashamed of themselves.