The Wichita Superintendent of Schools is getting a raise. The USD 259 Board of Education hired Superintendent Alicia Thompson five months ago, and last week, the board awarded her a $14,520 salary bump.
Board officials told the Wichita Eagle Thompson’s big payday is a 6.05 percent raise, or “the average teacher compensation increase.”
Teacher’s salaries are considered classroom spending. Under a recently-adopted contract between the USD 259 teacher’s union and the district, teachers will receive a 3.95 percent base salary increase, and eligible teachers will move 1-step up the pay scale ladder.
Thompson’s contract includes a clause that requires the superintendent receive a raise equivalent to the percentage amount teachers receive. The clause might make it difficult for USD 259 to funnel larger percentages of funding into classrooms. Getting 65 percent of classroom funding into classrooms was once policy objective of lawmakers. That hasn’t yet occurred, but lucrative contracts for school administrators could hamper that effort. Kansas school districts direct about 53 percent of funding into instruction on average.
In addition to her base salary, Thompson also receives a $9,360 annually–paid monthly– for a car allowance; she receives a mileage allowance, $525 per month for incidental expenses, and an annual contribution of $25,000 to her retirement. In total, Thompson’s compensation package is $297,460 per year.
The Wichita School District will spend almost 10 percent, or 9.56 percent, of its funding on administration this year. Last year, the district spent about 8.89 percent of its budget on administrators.
The percentage of the budget directed to instruction, or classroom spending, will also increase compared to last year. In 2016, Wichita officials directed only 46.3 percent of the budget to the classroom. This year, they’re set to spend about $6,685 per pupil in the classroom, or about 50.44 percent of the budget.
In October, the school officials authorized Thompson to create a new position and hire a deputy superintendent. The district’s administration also includes four assistant superintendents, with salaries ranging from $128,000 to $150,000, as well as a director of equity, chief counsel, a division director of facilities and one of operations, a chief information officer, an executive director of public affairs and a division director of marketing and communications.
Steve Wentz, the president of the United Teachers of Wichita, called the hiring of a deputy superintedent “unconscionable, inconceivable, and completely unacceptable.”
“The district is hemorrhaging teachers and the response is to hire another doctor to give a second opinion?” said.
USD 259 is one of the plaintiffs in an ongoing school financing lawsuit. The district alleged back in 2010 that legislature was underfunding public schools. In response, lawmakers added $293 million more in funding this year, but the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the funding mechanism unconstitutional. Justices wrote that current funding is inadequate and inequitable. They gave lawmakers an April 2018 deadline to submit a new funding formula to the Court.