High-paid school superintendents. Some local parents are fed up the districts' top leaders aren't earning their six-figure salaries.
“Show us the money! Show us what he's doing for the money,” says Hillsborough County mother Karen Russica.
10News WTSP is hearing on Facebook about the problems parents say they're facing in their kids' schools from overcrowding to budgets cuts, while superintendents are raking in the big bucks.
10News is looking at the Bay area's top earners and asks parents if the hefty price tag is worth it.
Dad Anthony Tucker puts his trust in Pinellas County to educate his sons, but Campbell Park Elementary' has been one of 5 failing schools in the district. Tucker believes the superintendent's salary doesn't add up.
“I've never seen the superintendent. This is a failing school. I've never seen him here,” says Tucker.
All three of the highest paid local public school superintendents -- Pinellas, Hillsborough and Polk -- declined 10News’ on-camera request to share the challenges facing their districts and how they're working to fix it.
Records show Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Grego makes the most out of any public school superintendent in the Bay area: $384,198 with benefits.
Grego sent this statement:
“Pinellas County Schools is committed to the academic success of all students. Challenges in Pinellas mirror challenges in urban districts across Florida and the country. Our School Board has approved a plan that is effectively increasing the graduation rate, increasing equity and excellence for all, and increasing student access and success in rigorous coursework.
“The District Strategic Plan is analyzed and revised each year to assure the district’s programs and initiatives are addressing the needs of students and improving student achievement. I am honored to serve as Pinellas County’s superintendent and oversee the work underway to reach the strategic goals we have set for ourselves.”
On top of Grego’s $268,000 annual base salary, benefits include $47,000 for retirement and $20,000 in health care.
“Wow! That's a lot of money,” says Tucker.
“Right now, there's 37 children in the classroom,” says Hillsborough County mom, Penney Chastain.
10News met up with a group of Hillsborough County moms, who first sounded off on Facebook when 10News asked about district problems.
“You have teachers that don't have work spaces,” says mother Kelly Cheney.
“My children were sitting on the floor of the school bus,” says mother Josephine Amato.
“They're putting a Band-Aid, like I said online, on something that needs attention now. It can't wait. The kids are suffering,” says mother Karen Russica.
Hillsborough County hired Jeff Eakins last year after a superintendent shake-up and is paying him a $350,374 salary with benefits.
Eakins responds in this statement:
“I am honored to be the Superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools. With more than 212,000 students and 27,000 employees, we are the largest employer in Hillsborough County and are the 8th largest school district in the nation. I have set high goals for the district including reaching a graduation rate of 90% by 2020. Every decision I make is with our students’ best interest in mind. We are focused on being as efficient and effective as possible while giving students the skills and resources they need to be successful. The goal of the School Board and myself is to connect our students to their future through an engaging curriculum which will ensure they graduate from high school prepared to pursue college or a career.”
In addition to Eakins’ $225,000 base salary, the district pays $81,000 toward his retirement.
“We are paying his salary so give me something in return,” says Russica.
In Polk County, Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd's pay with benefits adds up to $272,039.
Byrd says in a statement:
“School districts throughout Florida and the United States, including ours, are facing many tough challenges. There is a shortage of teachers nationwide. School districts must always look for ways to better recruit and retain qualified educators. In addition, school districts are dealing with budget constraints, and must determine the most efficient use of public funds.
“Locally, some of our schools are embarking on turnaround plans to improve academic performance. In addition, we are reaching out to the community for additional support for these schools.
“We are also exploring methods of improving our high quality academies as well as developing new magnet programs. In fact, Polk County Public Schools is receiving nearly $12 million in federal funding to transform three schools into new magnet programs and further improve two existing magnet programs.
I am proud to say that our school district’s employees, teachers, students and their families have been extremely supportive as we tackle these challenges. Working together, we can make great things happen.
“Here are some of our recent successes: One of our educators, Jessica Solano, has been named Florida’s 2017 Teacher of the Year. In total, Polk County has had four educators receive this top honor, and 13 finalists for the designation.
“Last year, we saw more than 800 of our high school seniors designated as Superintendent’s Scholars – receiving a GPA of 3.8 or higher.
“The Florida Alliance for Arts Education named four Polk County schools as being among the best public schools in Florida for arts programs.
‘Polk County Public Schools has 10 nationally certified career academies, four of which have achieved ‘model’ status.”
Byrd's benefit package also includes:
• HEALTH INSURANCE: Health plan for herself and dependents the District pays $ 1,112.00 per month
• LIFE INSURANCE: the District pays $67.50 per month for a policy of $450,000.
• AUTO ALLOWANCE: the District pays $800.00 per month
• ANNUITY: Annual contribution to 403(b) in the amount of 10% of her then current salary. This year the District made a contribution in the amount of $22,500.00
• LONG TERM DISABILITY: the District pays $66.25 per month
Parents say superintendents need to remember: a quality education for kids is what's invaluable.
“They have forgotten they work for us. Every single one of them, they work for our children,” says Amato.
10News asked every district in the Bay area what the superintendent is paid:
CITRUS, Superintendent Sandra Himmel: $121,974 (2015-2016)
“Superintendent salary is set by the State. There are no negotiated benefits or performance bonus provided by our Board. The Superintendent receives the same board match toward health insurance premiums as all of our District employees.”
HARDEE, Superintendent David D. Durastanti: $99,861 (2015-2016)
HERNANDO, Superintendent Dr. Lori Romano: $155,000 (4th year, negotiated contract)
HIGHLANDS, Superintendent Wally Cox: $117,669, salary set by legislature, based on size of district. With benefits: $197,659
Added bonuses: $2,000 Florida Association of School Superintendent certification
$5,625 Chief Executive Officer Leadership Development Program
Benefits: Retirement for elected official 42.47 (set by state) Social security and health $9,568 = $72,365
Cox will not be the Superintendent after November 21st. Voters will elect a new superintendent on Nov. 8th.
The new superintendent’s salary will be prorated from November 26-June 30th ($117,000 plus benefits)
HILLSBOROUGH, Superintendent Jeff Eakins: $225,000 base, $350,374 including benefits (see attached)
MANATEE, Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene: $189,955 plus benefits
PASCO, Superintendent Kurt Browning: $143,796.01 elected, set by law
PINELLAS, Superintendent Dr. Michael Grego: $268,000 base, $384,198 with benefits (see attached)
POLK, Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd $225,000 base, $272,039 with benefits (see attached)
SARASOTA, Superintendent Lori White, $189,434 (2015-2016)
Declined automatic 3% increase, accepted 2.5% across the board increase for all administrators
White will retire February 28, 2017
The district is searching for the next superintendent with $185,000-$225,000 as the advertised salary range.