At a time when most of the clamor regarding education in the Texas Capitol is about “more money,” one lawmaker is filing legislation to encourage existing education dollars to be spent more wisely; specifically, when it comes to compensating our schools’ top administrators.
Republican State Sen. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels recently filed a package of bills aimed at reining in out of control contracts for superintendents of Texas’ public schools. Senate Bills 721, 722, and 723 would cap the salaries and severance packages afforded to superintendents, as well as make most of the details surrounding their employment publicly and easily available.
“Parents and taxpayers should expect a certain level of transparency and accountability when it comes to what we are paying school administrators,” Campbell told Texas Scorecard. “While the majority of school districts do a great job of providing this information and appropriately compensating their superintendents, some schools are failing dramatically.”
Last year, Texas Monitor reported that some superintendents in Texas were raking in huge salaries in school districts that were supposedly tightening their belts. Moreover, some school districts were grossly over-compensating superintendents under investigation, on paid-leave, or were suspected of malfeasance before an untimely departure.
“The trail of waste these bad actors leave behind costs homeowners more in property taxes, takes money away from classrooms, and hinders teacher pay,” said Campbell. “I filed these three bills because as we look to increase funding for our schools, it’s important we create efficiencies to drive more dollars to the classroom, not the board room.”
Senate Bill 721 would cap the salaries of superintendents at 150 percent of the governor’s salary. Currently the Governor of Texas makes $150,000 annually, which would subsequently cap superintendents’ salaries at no more than $225,000 per year.
According to the Texas Education Agency’s Superintendents’ salary tool, 135 School Districts across the state were compensating their superintendent’s north of the proposed cap during the 2017-2018 school year. Many salaries soar past the proposal level, with several approaching nearly double that amount.
Senate Bill 722 caps the dollar amount an administrator can be paid on their way out the door, and Senate Bill 723 would make information like salary, bonuses, benefits, and reimbursements available for taxpayers to see on the district’s website.
Campbell’s office did not say whether House companions to the legislation were in the works.
Campbell’s efforts stand out drastically amid the constant drone of the “more money!” crowd this session. It’s not uncommon for bills to spend more money, as opposed to more wisely in Austin, so measures aimed at reining in abuse and providing transparency, like Campbell’s, should be celebrated among taxpayers and fiscal conservatives.
State Sen. Donna Campbell
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0125