School Superintendent “King” gets “Castle” Texas has got to end the cycle of never-ending perks for superintendents.

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Feb 23, 2017 1 Comment ›› admin

by Lynn Woolley

OK, the school superintendent in question here is a woman – she’d be a queen. And the district didn’t provide her an actual castle – but rather a 2,770-square-foot house on five acres complete with a barn and a swimming pool.

Susan Hull (Photo: Dallas Morning News)

Superintendent Susan Simpson Hull of the Grand Prairie ISD near Dallas actually pays the district $2,000 per month for the house –but that is an amazing deal.

Dave Lieber, the Dallas Morning News watchdog who says superintendents are like kings, would cringe.

Hull, by the way, makes a salary of $360,795. So the $24,000 she pays for the house leaves her with more than $336-thousand to live on.

My guess is that the rent covers the utilities, but I don’t know.

I also don’t know what other perks Hull has, but they are likely expansive and expensive. Somehow, Texas has got to end the cycle of never-ending perks for superintendents.

HULL HOUSE — The home of Grand Prairie ISD Superintendent Susan Simpson Hull in Grand Prairie. (Photo: Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

The superintendent’s job is not easy.

That’s a given. In these days of immigrant children that speak little or no English being dumped into the system – and all the kids from broken homes – it’s a tough job.

But lots of jobs are hard work – and are done for far less money. But that’s the private sector. The public sector sees the taxpayers as an open spigot of funding.

Somehow, the job of school superintendent became a way to literally fail and still make a fortune.

Maybe it’s just the system – or maybe it’s good lobbying. 

We could just blame the situation on the Texas Association of School Boards. But it goes deeper than that.

One day, many years ago, I came across a local official at a restaurant. It was during a time when my local ISD was shopping for a new superintendent.

I said something to the effect of:

“Let’s offer a good salary and a few benefits – but let’s not give away the store.”

The official (probably a school board member, but I forget) answered simply:

“We wouldn’t get anybody.”

This was probably thirty years ago and the situation today is far worse. School superintendents pay for nothing out of pocket.

They typically make big salaries such as what Ms. Hull makes –AND they get health and life insurance, a car allowance, sick days that mount and mount, generous vacations and more.

They also get several assistant superintendents to do a lot of the actual work so they can concentrate on passing bond elections every few years. And when they get fired as many do – they have incredible golden parachutes – courtesy of the taxpayers. Even when they fail, they get a huge payday. It literally makes me sick.

This wouldn’t be so bad if schools were succeeding.

I still wouldn’t like it.

But at least we’d be graduating smarter kids ready for college or a career. As things stand now, schools are turning out graduates that do not understand the origins of America or what our national values are. They do understand diversity and LGBT-Q issues because so many schools teach left-of-center values.

Some kids graduate without having been taught literacy; some even get out of college that way. Watch any post-game interview in the NFL or the NBA and you’ll often cringe at the lack of basic grammar skills.

Dr. Tom Trigg when he was Superintendent of Blue Valley Schools inside of the CAPS school in Overland Park, KS. (Photo: JIM BARCUS)

Hull isn’t the only coddled superintendent.

Pretty much – they ALL are kings and queens of their districts. But there’s another situation worthy of noting.

Highland Park –a rich enclave inside Dallas – is an expensive place to live. So HPISD used to provide housing for its superintendent.

But when Tom Trigg arrived as the new super, he was simply awarded an interest-free $1.2 million loan to find housing. They also gave him $20,000 to relocate and covered all his real estate fees to sell his old house.

It is beyond ridiculous.

It needs to change. A school super in a medium sized district should be able to eke out a living on $100,000 a year and a 401k and maybe free health insurance – and that’s more than most of use make in the private sector.

We also need to cut back on the assistants so that the superintendent can do more of the work. And when they leave – if it’s by firing – they get two-weeks notice, and the benefits end. I’d pay for unused vacation but not for unused sick days.

That’s all I’d get. School superintendents need to live and work in the real world.

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  1. davelieber says:

    You’re right. I’m cringing.

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