July 17, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

For New Shawnee Mission Super, Salary Is Sweet, Perks Are Sweeter

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Parents who once urged their children to go to med school or law school may be redirecting them towards the increasingly rewarding field of publication education where the salaries are good and the perks are better.

The deal the new Shawnee Mission superintendent Michael Fulton just signed is pretty typical of the going price for school supers. According to KCUR, Fulton will receive a base salary of $250,000 per year, but that is just the half of it.

Fulton also receives a $1,000 a month car allowance “for the purpose of offsetting all necessary operating expenses for travel required to perform duties” in the Kansas City area. The IRS mileage allowance is 54.5 cents per. At that rate, Fulton is allowed 60 free miles a day. Anything under, he keeps. Other perks include a yearly $24,000 tax-sheltered annuity.

Unfortunately, there is nothing unusual about the deal Michael Fulton signed.

Of all the perks perhaps none is more distinctive than his vacation leave. Fulton gets 31 days per year, plus all the days off that students and staff get. In addition to the normal run of holidays–Labor Day, MLK Day, President’s Day–this includes two days at Thanksgiving and nearly two weeks at Christmas. In no private business does a manager at this level enjoy this kind of leisure.

For school superintendents, especially in Johnson County, the best of all perks come at the end of the day. School supers are the greatest drain on the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS). Blue Valley’s recently retired super Tom Trigg, for instance, is expected to collect an incredible $4 million in payouts during his first twenty years of retirement. His annual pension of $214,258 was boosted by as much as $40,000 because he received over $300,000 in deferred compensation in his last year of employment, thus pumping up his final average earnings. Local school boards cut these deals, and cash-strapped citizens are left to make the payouts.

Trigg is one of many retirees who collect their pensions while still working elsewhere. After leaving Kansas, Trigg took a job as superintendent of Highland Park schools in Texas. There, he signed a four-year deal paying him $325,000 a year, plus a $5,000 annual stipend for having a doctoral degree, a $1,000 a month car allowance, and a “technology allowance” of $150 a month.

As a final note to parents, schools of education are a whole lot easier to get into–and a whole lot cheaper–than med schools or law schools.

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