Local superintendents demand impressive perks

A school bus. (Photo: WJLA)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- Public servants with personal drivers, security details and quarter million dollar salaries - we're not talking governors or U.S. senators. These compensation packages are going to area school superintendents.

The 7 On Your Side I-Team obtained the employment contracts of 29 local school superintendents - what they make and what they get. We read them all and found some eye-opening compensation packages.

The average school CEO salary is $193,432 - more than Virginia's Governor of $175,000.

"Who can justify a superintendent making more than the governor of the state of Virginia?” responded Republican Virginia State Senator Dick Black. “That's an outrage."

Prince George's county pays its CEO the most at $290,000, nearly twice Maryland's governor’s salary of $150,000 – even though his district has the state's second lowest graduation rate.

"The idea absolutely is to change that," said Segun Eubanks.

Eubanks is the chairman of the Prince George's County School Board. He took part in drafting that $290,000 salary.

"It's worth it and it's an impressive compensation package," he said. "Getting talented people around your kids is important."

Beyond salaries, most superintendents get a car allowance. But St. Mary's and Loudoun County taxpayers fund the largest at $12,000 a year. Meanwhile, the Loudoun County School Board has proposed charging parents to bus their kids.

Karen Garza of Fairfax County is the only super who gets a housing allowance; $24,000 a year - that's in addition to her $265,000 salary. She also gets up to $65,000 a year in retirement benefits, which alone is roughly equal to the average Fairfax teacher salary of $66,782 - a topic that has become an issue.

Dean Howarth is a physics teacher in Fairfax County. "The teachers who work at our school can't afford to live where they teach. And there's an exodus of talent."

When it comes to paid time off, again, Kevin Maxwell of Prince George's gets the most at 51 days - more than 10 weeks.

"It sets a bad example,” stated Senator Black. "There was a time when we used to talk about public service. It's not that way. They have surrounded themselves with opulence."

As the I-Team dug deeper in the stack of contracts, we found two superintendents, in Prince George's and Howard Counties get security.

"That's incredible. Are people trying to kill them?" asked Sue Perlin, a homeowner in Fairfax County.

Meanwhile, superintendents in DC and, yet again, Prince George's have personal drivers.

"I personally did not have a driver,” responded Ben Kiser, the executive director of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, when asked if a personal driver seems excessive.

Kiser says they can demand such perks, because the pool of quality candidates is shrinking.

"It's a tough job,” added Kiser.

So tough, in Virginia, the average tenure is fewer than five years. That instability is driving many away from the job - thus driving up salaries and extras.

"Very few superintendents go into it for the money,” affirmed Kiser. “But they are going to negotiate what they consider to be the best package possible.”

ABC 7 did reach out to the superintendents featured in this story. None would go on camera. But Renee Foose of Howard County said she has not yet used her security.

See the spreadsheet below for more information on area superintendent salaries.

Superintendents Perks

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