Do public schools in Texas pay $232,000 for coordinating PE classes? What about paying $340,000 to a high school music teacher and $127,000 to a librarian?
Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com found 7,327 Texas public school administrators, athletic directors, teachers, and other employees pulled down six-figure salaries costing taxpayers nearly $1 billion. In fiscal year 2017, superintendents earned as much as $450,000; "executive directors for assessment and compliance" received up to $302,820; and principals made as much as $313,870.
Using our interactive mapping tool
at OpenTheBooks.com, quickly review (by zip code) every Texas educator who made a salary of $100,000 or more in 2017. Just zoom in, click a pin (zip code), and scroll down to see the results.
To see all 2017 Texas Education Agency payroll data at OpenTheBooks.com, click here
Less than six percent of these highly compensated Texas educators were teachers. In fact, we found as many athletic directors and business managers (406) earning six figure salaries as teachers (407). Additionally, "educational aides" received up to $203,658; "assistant principals" made up to $202,115; "counselors" earned up to $186,092. What about those "athletic directors?" They received up to $155,156.
Across the state, school districts pampered their superintendents with top salaries and huge perks. Districts even subsidized housing, loans, and legal fees for the Lone Star State’s most highly compensated superintendents.
- Grand Prairie Independent School District Superintendent Susan Simpson Hull’s compensation increased from $325,795 (2015) to $399,795 (2017). Meanwhile, Hull rented a 2,700-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bathroom house with a three-car garage and a swimming pool owned by the district and valued at $413,000. But it wasn’t enough. A forensic audit report commissioned by Grand Prairie ISD, showed $160,000 in home makeover renovations and "none of the costs related to the renovation of the property were presented to the Board for approval."
- Highland Park Independent School District Superintendent Thomas Trigg made $360,928 last year – that’s $88,110 more than his predecessor. Additionally, Highland Park gave Trigg an interest-free $1.2 million loan to live in the district and dished out another $20,000 to relocate Trigg to the area, according to the Dallas News.
- Katy Independent School District Superintendent Lance Hindt’s salary skyrocketed from $230,000 (2015) to $343,006 (2017). However, in January, he’ll resign his position due to bullying and plagiarism accusations from 30 years ago. According to the San Antonio Express News, the district agreed to pay Hindt a $750,000 severance package. Hindt has denied any wrongdoing.
Huge Severance Pay for Terminated Contracts
Over a 15-month period, The Texas Monitor found
24 superintendents pocketed $6 million in severance packages for early termination of contracts ₋₋ and it’s all on the taxpayer dime.
- Johnson City Superintendent David Shanley retired three years before his $148,066 annual contract ended and received a $265,727 severance package. Shanley even took his district-issued desktop computer while the 689-student school recorded an almost $1-million budget deficit.
- When Bloomington Superintendent Delores Warnell retired in March 2017, she received a $291,591 severance package on top of her $197,683 yearly salary. Warnell’s contract wasn’t up until 2020. Meanwhile, 85 percent of students in the district are economically disadvantaged, and just 13 percent of Bloomington students passed the statewide test in writing and 27 percent in reading.
- Seguin Superintendent Stetson Roane left his $189,000 salary in March, two years before his contract expired and after he was accused of sexual harassment, according to San Antonio Express News. Roane denied any harassment and passed a polygraph test. Nevertheless, Roane received $256,066 including back pay and six months of severance. Four months later, Roane signed a contract as the Raymondville ISD superintendent where he makes $147,000 per year.
- Garland Superintendent Bobby Morrison made $302,532 in 2017 before he left the district with four years left on his contract. According to the Dallas News, Morrison received a $448,115 severance package – the total amount of salary owed, benefits, leave and vacation time, and other perks.
Huge salaries and huge deficits
Our OpenTheBooks.com investigation in Texas shows a strong correlation between the number of six-figure educators and accumulated district debt. Some of the districts are even facing student enrollment declines.
Consider the three largest districts in the state:
- Houston Independent School District (HSD) is facing an $83-million deficit for the 2018-19 school year and has seen a 1,931-student enrollment drop from 2016 to 2017. Still, HSD paid 312 educators six-figure salaries in 2017, costing taxpayers $38 million. Non-instructional district employees accounted for 40 percent of the six-figure salaries and cost taxpayers $15 million. For example, Chief Human Resource Officer Gloria Cavazos made $194,361 – the fourth-highest paid Houston administrator – and Superintendent Richard Carranza made $345,000.
- Dallas Independent School District (DSD) has received multiple billion-dollar bonds while racking up $4.8 billion in outstanding tax-supported debt (2016). Regardless, DSD paid 274 educators six-figure salaries in 2017, costing taxpayers $34 million. Superintendent Eliu Hinojosa made $335,000 while 102 principals in the district made $11.4 million, collectively. Even the sports department jumped on the gravy train: Athletic Director Gilbert Gaza made $142,140.
- Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District will have to pull from their "rainy day" reserves to cover their $12.6 million deficit (2017). Further, Cypress-Fairbank has a 2018-19 projected deficit of $40 million. Despite its growing debt, the district paid 122 educators six-figure salaries in 2017, costing taxpayers $14.9 million. In total, 38 principals received $4.4 million collectively and Superintendent John Henry made $417,103. Chief Financial Officer Stuart Snow earned $256,311.
Perhaps it's time for a compensation cap for employees at the Texas education patronage farm. After all, in 2017, there were 319 school district administrators out earning every governor of the 50 states at a threshold salary of $187,818
. That's excessive.
In the absence of a pay cap, our data at OpenTheBooks.com shows that unwarranted pay for superintendents, administrators, staffers, and some educators is making a bad situation far worse.