in Houston, Texas
Revolving door for public school administrators raises pension questions
Wednesday, Nov 02, 2011, 11:43AM CST
By Steve Miller
revolving door
It’s a skipping record, and no one ever picks the needle up and sets it down again. Public school teachers and administrators quit or retire and come back to their same district as consultants or assistants or whatever title someone can come up with, taking both a pension and a new salary from the same taxpayer account.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Dave Lieber describes the cozy arrangement of Vicki Burris, a former assistant superintendent in the Keller school district, in the monied suburbs north of Fort Worth.

Lieber lays it all out in frustrating detail:
(Burris) worked as a $120,000-a-year assistant superintendent of business for the Keller school district. In mid-June, two weeks before her scheduled retirement, she signed a one-year contract on behalf of her new consulting business, Results Centered Solutions of Northlake. Keller Superintendent James Veitenheimer also signed the contract.

The deal promises to pay her $60,000, half of what was her annual salary. Her job duties are essentially what she did before.

Her last day of work was June 30. On Aug. 18, the school board approved her company's hiring, retroactive to Aug. 1. A day after the vote, she was paid $40,000, with the remaining $20,000 coming at the end of her contract.
Results Centered Solutions doesn’t need a Web site and doesn’t appear to have one. What would be the point if there's only one gig? Burris registered the business with the state on April 22. The address for the business is her home in Justin. Burris did not return calls for comment, Lieber writes.

Burris first obtained her teaching certificate in 1978, according to state records, and was certified as an administrator in 1991. Her LinkedIn profile says she was “director of facilities, planning and analysis” at Forth Worth ISD from 2001 to 2007 but doesn’t mention the Keller gig, which entailed the same duties, according to the Lieber story.
We have to be curious about the status of her pension. She can still draw payments, but she must pay "surcharges" to the state teacher retirement system, the story says.

Since pension amounts are not public record, we have no way of knowing what that surcharge is, nor do we know what Burris is receiving in terms of pension and health benefits. So secretive are these amounts that the teacher retirement system has sued to keep from releasing some rudimentary numbers on retiree payments.

We’ve written about double dippers in the public sector and can’t help but wonder, if that could be addressed, perhaps Keller wouldn’t have had to lay off so many people as it did earlier this year. But if administrators like Burris were among those, their landing was no doubt soft.

And as the story points out, the chiefs at Keller seem absolutely delighted that they are getting the work of Burris for $60,000 while her salary was $120,000, plus bennies and pension. Lieber asks: "If an administrator making $120,000 a year can come back at half-time making $60,000 for doing mostly the same job, was the administrator originally overpaid or underworked?"
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or

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Photo of revolving door by flickr user Dan4th, used via a Creative Commons license.

Peggy Venable
Wednesday, 11/02/2011 - 01:44PM

Outrageous! And we wonder why education budgets are bloated and growing faster than student enrollment. We appear to be a jobs program for enterprising administrators eager to line their own pockets at the students' and taxpayers' expense.

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