'Super' Salaries Under Fire After $1M Payout

Lawmakers To Consider Caps, Tiered Superintendent Salaries

A 6News investigation into a superintendent's $1 million retirement payout is prompting action from state lawmakers.

This summer, a bipartisan legislative committee will study pay and benefit packages for the state's 291 school superintendents, 6News' Kara Kenney reported.

According to the Indiana Department of Education database, superintendent salaries range from $29,400 to $272,940, not counting benefits and perks.

State Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, requested the evaluation after 6News' coverage of former Wayne Township Superintendent Terry Thompson's $1 million retirement package.

"I'm alarmed to watch your stories about superintendents making a $1 million severance package when they leave a school system," Banks said. "It's startling as a taxpayer."

Banks said he believes administrator salaries have become bloated, all while teachers are being laid off and programs are cut.

"The superintendent receives a nice package in one district, and the district next door demands to be paid as well as the other superintendents," Banks said. "I think it's caused inflation of salaries around the state, and that's why I think we need to look into the issue."

6News reviewed the DOE's database of superintendent base salaries in 2010-2011 and found little consistency across the board when it comes to salaries and the size of the district.

Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White makes the most statewide, earning $272,940 for a district of more than 33,000 students.

The superintendent of Greater Clark County Schools ranks second, making $225,500 in a district with just over 10,000 students.

Donald Stinson of Decatur Township Schools ranked eighth, with a base salary of $189,287 for a district with about 6,400 students.

Meanwhile, Carmel Clay Schools Superintendent Jeff Swensson earns $100,602 for a district with 15,493 students.

The superintendent of Medora Schools in southern Indiana recently resigned, saying the 276-student district could not afford his $105,000 salary.

But critics argue that a superintendent's education and skill level often commands a certain salary, while others point out it's only a small percentage of the school's overall budget.

John Ellis, president of the Indiana Public School Superintendent's Association, has maintained it should be up to school districts and school boards to determine salaries, not the state.

Still, Banks said 41 percent of the tax dollars spent on public education end up in the bureaucracy of running schools.

"That's alarming to me," he said. "That figure should be much smaller than what it is."

The legislative committee will consider measures taken by other states, including capping salaries and creating a tiered system to factor in the size of the district when determining a superintendent's salary.

"I think we need to create some sort of state framework," Banks said.

No date has been set for the summer study committee.

More Information: List Of Superintendent Salaries