February 20, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Wichita Super to Earn Double Governor’s Salary

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The Wichita USD 259 Board of Education will pay its newest superintendent more than double what the Kansas Governor earns in a single year.

School board members unanimously approved a three-year contract for Alicia Thompson. Her annual base salary is $240,000. Thompson is a former assistant superintendent who earned $140,000 in 2016. Gov. Sam Brownback earns $99,636 per year. In addition to her base salary, Thompson will receive a car allowance worth $780 per month and mileage, an additional $525 per month of incidental expenses, and a $25,000 annual contribution to her retirement.

Wichita Teacher Pay

It’s not uncommon for Kansas school district employees to out earn the Governor. In the Blue Valley district in Johnson County, more than 80 school staffers do. Meanwhile, the Wichita district says it trimmed more than $22 million from its budget last  year, and negotiations between teachers and the board reached an impasse over salary and benefits negotiations. Since 2008, the teacher salary schedule has increased twice. The average salary for a USD 259 teacher was more than $60,000 last year. However, there is a wide discrepancy in teacher pay. In 2016, a physical education teacher in the district earned more than $96,000. The second highest paid teacher earned $84,000.

Statewide, superintendent and management salaries have increased at double the pace of teacher salaries for the last few years. Teacher salaries increased an average of 3.9 percent, while superintendent salaries are up an average of 7.9 percent. Principal salaries increased an average of 7.4 percent.

The Wichita School District also pays a lobbyist, Diane Gjerstad. Gjerstad frequently advocates for additional state funding from the Kansas taxpayers before the legislature.

Currently, the state gives school districts block grants, and local school boards determine how the money will be used. Legislators await a Kansas Supreme Court determination on whether school funding is “adequate.” The decision could spur the legislature to add an additional $500 million to $900 billion in state funding to school districts.

“We are in this lawsuit because schools have been cut, over time and we have not had adequate dollars to educate students to high standards,” Gjerstad told KAKE-TV last year.

In 2016, Gjerstad out-earned the governor.


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