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There certainly is a lot of money in education

Kansas City Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green

Kansas City Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green

This week Governor Nixon announced his goal to fully fund the foundation formula in Missouri. For those reading this blog outside Missouri, the foundation formula was established in 2005 to handle the distribution of state funds to school districts. It is a per pupil expenditure that uses various metrics to try to direct more money to struggling districts. It is a complex and controversial formula that has been approved by our court system. The biggest problem with it is that it essentially starts with an amount to give students and then attempts to divy up the pot. For that reason our foundation formula has been “underfunded” for years, to the tune of about $600 million. To be clear, we don’t shortchange our students. Constitutionally we are obligated to spend at least 25% of the state budget on education. Last year we spent 39%.

Some may disagree that we don’t shortchange our students, that we need to spend more on education. Perhaps the better goal would be to spend more wisely on education. Are we making the best investments in the right places in education? I’m not sure.

This week the Kansas City MO school district approved a new 5 year contract for Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green. The district lost accreditation in 2012 and was not granted accreditation again this year despite some gains in student test scores under Green’s leadership. They have until 2014 to meet state requirements for accreditation or risk being taken over by the state. Given the continued low performance of St. Louis schools which were taken over by the state, that does not seem like a solution to help Kansas City. Local officials, however, seem convinced that stability at the top is what is needed most in KCSD and they are, apparently, willing to pay handsomely for that stability.

We were given a breakdown of Green’s entire compensation package, and we can see where a large portion of the new funding Nixon is determined to put into education is going to go. Only Marisol Montero voted against this contract for reasons which may become obvious as you read the contract details.
Here’s a somewhat detailed breakdown. The board increased his compensation almost 100% in one year without increasing his base salary a dollar.
1.       Base salary: $250,000.00
2.       Signing Bonus: $60,000.00 payable October 31, 2013 from non-public funds held at Greater Kansas City Community Foundation
3.       Bonus to Increase MSIP-5 Points:  Most likely between $10,000-$40,000   NOTE:  2012-2013, district had 80 pts which is 57% (the district’s reported figure of  60% is overinflated)
a.        60%    (84 pts)       =              $10,000
b.       62%    (87 pts)       =              $15,000
c.        65%    (91 pts)       =              $30,000
d.       66.4% (93 pts)      =              $40,000  ($10,000 more for an increase of only 1.4%)
e.       70%    (98 pts)       =              $50,000  (If  district makes 70% in 2014, also triggers 2-month “sabbatical” for Green.  See p. 8)
f.         80%    (112 pts)    =              $70,000
g.        90%    (126 pts)    =              $90,000
h.       100%  (140)   =                    $100,000
4.       7% Increase in Attendance Rate:                                                                     $ 5,000
5.       5% Enrollment Increase Bonus:                                                                          $ 5,000
            With such low bars, probable total for this section:                             $25,000
6.       For any year the district gets a “clean or ‘unqualified’ audit”            $10,000
7.       A “a suitable transition/succession plan” in the event he leaves      $  5,000
RETIREMENT PLAN
  1. ALL benefits from KCPS Employee Retirement Plan (which include sick leave, insurance, etc. — Estimated at 35-40% of salary)
 
PLUS p.7
 
2.      KCPS contribution to supplemental retirement fund 403(b) p.7                                    $51,000
            (Green invests –see p.12)
          annually
3.        KCPS contribution supplemental retirement fund Sect 457(b)                                        $17,500
            annually (earlier proposal included $5,000 more as Green is over 50)
4.      Supplemental insurance allowance (that’s in addition to all district plans                $15,000
           provided) annually (Paid directly to Green, no documentation on how spent required)
5.      4 additional weeks (20 days) Sick Leave (accumulative)                                     $20,000
         annually ($250,000/2000 hours = $125 per hr or $1,000 per day)
6.      5 weeks (25 days)  (accumulative) vacation in addition to regular                              $25,000
         vacation days annually
                   ALSO Retroactive to July 2012, payable this year                                                  $25,000
                                                                                                                                                     $163,500 this year             
                                                                                       ($138,500.00 subsequent 4 years)
REIMBURSABLE EXPENSES p.8
Meals, Blackberry, laptop, membership fees in professional or civic organizations, conference fees, hotels, airplane tickets, car lease (and/or mileage, gas,) etc. estimated between $55,000-$75,000 for 2012-2013.
                                                                                                                     
OUTSIDE COMPENSATION EARNED BY GREEN: P.10
 
Over $25,000.00 must report to Board President (not full board).
NOTE:  Green is in business with his son. P.9
SIGNING & RETENTION BONUSES p.12                         Total for 3 yrs =                   $95,000.00
Signing Bonus:            $60,000 (This contract replaces old contract w/Green which was through 2014, plus extensions. Original had no “Signing” bonus or retention bonuses)
Retention Bonuses:
2014-15 :                         $25,000
2015-2016:                     $10,000
NOTE:  Signing/retention Bonuses to be paid with “non-public funds currently managed by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation and subject to distribution at the direction of the Board.”  Is this the money raised several years ago that was intended to recruit competent principals?
All together its close to half a million dollars in total salary + benefits. Is that what it takes to keep someone in charge of an urban school district? The state has forced districts to focus on test scores because they have made them a critical factor in deciding if the district should be accredited. Contracts like these make clear the actual cost of being accountable to someone outside the local district for things that are important to that outside power. A couple of points cost tens of thousands of dollars. At least, that’s what the market seems willing to bear at this time. Is this really the best investment of our education dollars?

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Anne Gassel
Is a stay at home mom of two children in the public school system in the St. Louis area. She has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. In the summer she works with a group to provide Vacation Liberty School for middle schoolers to understand our country's founding principles of personal and economic freedom. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators "I will remember that there is art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the policies of those above me and the findings of data mining ventures."

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One Response to There certainly is a lot of money in education

  1. bobmontgomery

    October 25, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    The figures, of course, boggle the mind. The fact that not only was he retained but was given those fat bonuses and perks *following the loss of accreditation under his leadership* is bizarre. But if the top reason for retaining him is purported to be ‘stability at the top’, in other words the status of the district’s mission is so fragile that it depends on this one dude, then somebody had better be creating a safety net for all the students who will fail miserably after Dr. Green retires, or gets caught spending his windfall in unseemly ways and HAS to be let go, or other possible, unforseeable happenings.