OEA issues report on survey of Kentucky superintendents' contracts and employment benefits; some "confusion" by boards cited, but most districts follow proper procedures

Last week, the Office of Education Accountability (OEA) released a report from its survey earlier this year of Kentucky superintendents' employment contracts, including benefits accorded to top district administrators.  The report was given to the General Assembly's Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee.

Here's a summary of the report submitted to that legislative panel:

This report provides an overview of the contracts, benefits, and employment process for superintendents. In addition, the study includes a comprehensive review of all superintendent contracts including salary, benefits, and other contract terms. Historical and survey data on superintendent employment in Kentucky was also analyzed in order to determine longevity, turnover, movement, and information on female and minority superintendents.

Superintendent contracts are not specifically addressed in statute or regulation. The contracts generally outline employment expectations, salary, benefits, and other requirements of the superintendent. Some superintendent contracts do not contain adequate information to understand the salary and benefits being offered; they lack clarity and a full explanation of benefits. Confusing, vague, or contradicting provisions make it difficult for superintendents, boards, and members of the public to fully understand the total compensation package provided. Additionally, lack of detail and clarity potentially provide a liability to the district for payment of benefits that the board may not have intended to provide.

There is still significant confusion regarding board responsibility for procedural requirements such as complying with the open meetings law, approving the necessary items in open session, and recording actions in the minutes. These actions are necessary for items such as evaluations, contract approval, and amendments, including raises.

For the 159 districts for which OEA had full information, the average salary was just over $120,000 in FY 2012. Salary ranged from just under $74,000 to $276,000. However, comparisons of salary alone can be incomplete.  In addition to salary, superintendents often receive additional benefits. Selected additional benefits were calculated in order to find the total compensation of superintendents. Fifty-eight superintendents receive no additional monetary contractual benefits; in these cases, total compensation is the same as salary. For the remaining 101 superintendents, additional benefits average about $12,800, although the maximum is about $81,700. This means that total compensation for all superintendents, including those with no additional benefits, averages about $128,450, ranging from almost $74,000 to about $321,000. As a result of both contract structure and district error, some superintendents are receiving benefits for which there is no documentation of board approval. Other superintendents are not receiving benefits to which they appear to be entitled.

In conclusion, OEA staff reviewed statutes and regulations along with local district policies, superintendent contracts and amendments, board minutes, and Munis reports that were provided by districts. While some issues were found that should be reviewed by local boards and district personnel, most districts are following proper procedures for the hiring of the superintendent, and most contracts are being adhered to.

KSBA's Governmental Relations team has posted the full OEA report online. To access the report and other materials from last week's meeting of the EAARS panel, click here  http://www.ksba.org/September122013MeetingInformation.aspx.

 The link to the 104-page report is at the very bottom of the page.

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