Some Arkansas Superintendents Earn More Than Sarah Sanders
Forensic audits are needed to examine why tax dollars are spent on school superintendents' fringe benefits such as $800 housing allowances.
I paid my property taxes this month like any Arkansan who owns anything.
Taxes always gall me because I wonder where does my hard-earned money really go. Paying them this year particularly sets my hair on fire.
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My money may be spent on another $19,000 for something trivial like a lectern in Gov. Sarah Sanders’ office or an audit to investigate the money that's already been spent on that lectern by her administration.
Wasting money, though, isn't just happening in Little Rock.
My tax dollars will pay for the $800 housing allowance the Cleveland County School District in Rison pays its superintendent to live 115 miles away in Searcy.
Every month, according to his contract, Jerrod Williams receives an $800 living expense for his house far away from Wildcat Country. That's in addition to a paid vehicle with unlimited mileage for professional and personal use and a $127,000 one-year contract. The previous superintendent only made $117,000.
Note: His name is Jerrod not Jarrod as this contract shows.
Remember, the elected school board voted to offer Williams this package. School boards are not volunteers. They are elected officials. They can be voted into office and out.
Couldn't the school board find at least someone in a nearby county to hire? That's unclear because the board hired the only person they interviewed. I don't have documents that otherwise prove that they interviewed other candidates, and I asked for them. Williams appears to be the only one.
Documents also show Williams, who was formerly the superintendent at the Sheridan School District, left that school under an unusual eight-page mutual termination agreement.
The Sheridan School Board suspended Williams with pay in December 2021. They voted to end his contract at the end of February 2022.
The reasons are unclear.
As a taxpayers we have a right to know who our tax dollars pay, and parents have a compelling interest to know who oversees their children.
When Williams left the district under the mutual termination agreement drawn up by his and the school's attorneys, the board bought out his $177,000 contract in a lump sum.
That's our tax dollars.
Education is big business, and superintendents are the CEOs. Yes, they call themselves CEOs, and they answer to the elected school board. They also make a CEO's salary.
By far, Williams is not the only superintendent rolling in money.
Dr. Karla Neathery, Williams’ replacement in Sheridan, was hired just days after Williams left that school district in February 2022. Neathery makes $186,005.58. That's excluding any fringe benefits like a car.
If you think that's a lot, check out Cabot Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman's contract.
Yep, Thurman's salary is $258,867 along with hefty vehicle reimbursements.
Most people who commute to work do not get their gas reimbursed. Why should superintendents?
Compare that to what Sanders earns. She makes $163,501.20, according to the Transparency.Arkansas.Gov website.
Granted, Sanders lives in free housing — the Governor's Mansion — and has many freebies included in her job as is well known.
So do superintendents – free car, free gas, free trips, free food, free use of cell phones.
Sanders campaigned as an education governor. She successfully implemented the controversial LEARNS Act. Maybe she should have started her education overhaul by conducting forensic audits for every school district in the state to examine wasteful spending.
For example, custodial services are outsourced to Tennessee. More of my tax money going to God knows where.
The taxpayer never gets a break. Who in Arkansas will rein in this out-of-control spending?