Texas school superintendent salaries continue to rise, despite falling enrollments and flagging student performance, leaving taxpayers wondering what they are getting for their money.

Newly released Texas Education Agency data for the 2023-24 school year shows eight superintendents with salaries above $400,000 and another 81 receiving $300,000 or more.

Texas’ highest-paid school superintendent was again Cypress-Fairbanks ISD’s Mark Henry, who pulled down a base salary of $536,775 before retiring in December 2023.

Last school year, 77 superintendents received taxpayer-funded salaries above $300,000, with five making $400,000 or more.

During the 2021-22 school year, 60 superintendents scored salaries at or above $300,000.

The lucrative salaries are supplemented by benefits such as allowances for cars, phones, and housing, along with large pension contributions. They often include hefty bonuses as well.

All are provided at taxpayers’ expense.

Superintendent salaries are set by elected school board trustees. The top administrators’ salaries show no correlation to the number of students enrolled in a district or students’ academic performance.

James Quintero, a policy director at the free-market think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation, noted that superintendents’ “sky-high salaries” prompt taxpayers to wonder what they are getting for their money.

“Superintendents are getting rich from their public service. Such self-centeredness is violative of taxpayers and the public trust. Worse, it deprives classrooms of resources needed to teach kids to read, write, and do math,” Quintero told Texas Scorecard.

“Sky-high superintendent salaries raise serious questions about the lack of fiscal discipline throughout all of public education. After all, if there’s no restraint at the top, then why should we expect to find prudence elsewhere?” he added.

Two districts in the top 20 of superintendent pay are under state-appointed management: Houston ISD and La Joya ISD.

Klein ISD, which paid Superintendent Jenny McGown $404,430 for the 2023-24 school year, had four teachers arrested during that time for sex crimes involving children—including a teacher charged with forcing students into prostitution.

Prosper ISD Superintendent Holly Ferguson received a raise in 2023—from $310,000 to $350,000—plus a $40,000 bonus following revelations that she covered up a bus driver’s arrest for sexually molesting two elementary students. Ferguson is currently under investigation by the Texas Education Agency.

Last year, Texas Scorecard asked readers if superintendent salaries should be capped at no more than the governor’s salary of $153,750.

A majority of respondents supported reducing and/or limiting superintendent salaries. Some suggested tying the top administrators’ pay to teachers’ salaries.

“Public sector compensation reform is sorely needed next session,” said Quintero. “The 89th Texas Legislature must get control of runaway salaries, benefits, and severance pay at the local level.”

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.