Do you have a “sick-leave buy back” program at your workplace? Do you have a “luxury edition” company car? – Probably not… However, taxpayer dollars are being used for both in Texas school districts.
Since January, Texans have been hearing the heart-wrenching tale of how cuts in the state budget will result is widespread and (to paraphrase the words of one high-paid school district “consultant”) “apocalyptic” teacher layoffs. The reason? Because there’s just no other place to cut, no waste to be found, and no added efficiency to be gained.
So when the public reads about how some school districts have maintained a “sick-leave buy back” program, luxury vehicles for ISD staff, and raises to what are already unbelievably exorbitant superintendent salaries, we’re to continue believing that there are no room for cuts outside the classroom and teachers must go unless we increase taxes and raid the state’s savings account?
It’s insulting that some school district superintendents think they can pull this over while bilking the taxpayer for a salary that would employ about 7 classroom teachers.
Perhaps superintendents need some assistance identifying some cost savings in their districts, so here’s a start:
Sick-leave buy back programs. Some ISDs have used programs where staff can convert unused sick-leave into cash as work attendance incentives. This practice is certainly far outside the norm for working Texans and should certainly be at the top of the list of things to cut.
Luxury vehicles for ISD use. Apparently Beaumont ISD feels it’s important to have district employees driving nothing but the best. At least one BISD administrator has been driving around in Ford’s F-350 Super Duty King Ranch Edition that includes “leather seats, a premium stereo system, the sync communications and entertainment system that makes the entire vehicle Bluetooth compatible, a power moon roof and 9-1-1 assist capability.” – Go ahead and file that for waste as well…
Raises to already exorbitant salaries. Within the last few weeks, there have been news reports detailing pay raises granted to several school superintendents even while many of them were at the capital in Austin proclaiming a crisis in education funding. A good example again comes from Beaumont ISD where Carroll Thomas (already the highest paid superintendent in the state) was recently awarded a raise that will bring his base salary to $361,399.73. It’s also important to note that BISD is nowhere near the largest school district in Texas. On top of that, the taxpayers will also be giving Thomas “supplemental pay” of $1,000 a month and a Universal Life Insurance policy worth $500,000. – Nope, no savings to be found there!
Education is important, administrative and bureaucratic bloat is not. In the midst of necessary budget cuts, Texas’ taxpayers, teachers, and students can no longer be made to bear the burden of irresponsible waste outside the classroom. For more information, visit: www.ProtectTheClassroom.com
Andrew Kerr is the Executive Director of Empower Texans / Texans for Fiscal Responsibility
Connect with Andrew on Twitter