in Houston, Texas
Today's featured video: Supersized salaries, perks for Austin-area school chiefs, from KXAN-TV
Wednesday, Feb 09, 2011, 08:17AM CST
By Jennifer Peebles
Man with bag of cash

Austin-area school superintendents are raking in the big bucks while their school systems are having their budget slashed and are considering layoffs -- and the perks the school chiefs get on top of their pay are pretty sweet, too. 

That's the subject of today's featured video on the Texas Watchdog homepage. It's a piece from investigative reporter Nanci Wilson of KXAN-TV. 

She tells us that one school superintendent, Nola Wellman of the Eanes school district (which we've written about before), makes $70,000 worth of perks over her six-figure salary, including reimbursement for her retirement contributions, money kicked into an annuity, $10,000 for expenses that don't have to be reported, a $5,000 annual bonus and life insurance premiums.

And the school superintendents already make a pretty good living without the perks, Wilson says:

The base salary for Austin ISD superintendent, Meria Carstarphan makes $283,412 per year. Her district has more than 80,000 students.

Round Rock ISD superintendent has more than 40,000 students, and its superintendent's base salary is $252,875. Eanes ISD has about 7,500 students and its superintendent's base salary is $231,063.

If you do the math, it works out to this amount of base pay per year per student:

  • Austin ISD: $3.54
  • Round Rock ISD: $6.32
  • Eanes ISD: $30.80

Whew. Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier is paid about $300,000 a year, and his district has about 200,000 students. That's about 66 cents per kid. If he were paid at the same rate as the Eanes superintendent, he'd be making $6.2 million a year. 

Superintendents enjoy super benefits:

See a good video clip about watchdog journalism, Texas government and politics, or government accountability or transparency? Let us know. Texas Watchdog is always trolling for good video clips to use on its home page. Shoot a note to

Clip art: Public domain.

Thursday, 02/10/2011 - 09:07AM

KXAN updated this story and reported on contract issues regarding retroactive raises in Eanes ISD. Link here:

Additional links regarding Eanes ISD superintendent Nola Wellman:

Nola Wellman (Eanes ISD) hid her travel expenses:

Wellman increased administrator salaries in Eanes ISD:

Wellman's property taxes:

John C
Saturday, 02/12/2011 - 09:00PM

While the superintendent salaries are out of my league I cannot say that they are overly generous. What I do think needs to be published with all salary details is the perks that were mentioned. I am pleased that KXAN was able to do this.

When salaries are assessed on the number of students in a school district it should not be done in isolation. One needs to look at the school district performance also. There is currently a trend of asking for teachers to be evaluated on performance so there should also be a similar demand for superintendents. As a 30 year resident of the Eanes ISD who has probably paid around $100K in school taxes and have never had a child in the Eanes schools I am not too troubled by the superintendent’s salary. I have seen the results in the high school graduation rates, the number of exemplary schools, the quality of the teachers and the increased property values.

So maybe instead of just looking a the number of students there should be a look at the percentage graduation rate for high school students, the percent of high school students passing AP course with a 3 or more, the performance on the TAKs test. This would provide some additional data to help evaluate the superintendent pay scale. One other factor that should be considered is the overall headaches caused by school boards, parents and property owners. In that light maybe the Austin ISD superintendent is underpaid.

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