Sentinel-Echo.com

October 27, 2013

Auditor calls for transparency on superintendent contracts

By Rob McDaniel
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Earlier this year, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday supported a recommendation by State Auditor Adam Edelen to require superintendent contracts, benefits and annual evaluations to be made available online after a series of school district special examinations found a lack of transparency and oversight.

The call for transparency in the school districts comes after an audit found the former superintendent of Dayton Independent Schools received $224,000 in benefits and payments over an eight-year period which were not authorized by the board.  The audit also found the superintendent of the Mason County School District received compensation in excess of what was agreed upon in his contract.

As a result, the Kentucky Department of Education has began requiring all school districts to submit the superintendent contract on a publicly accessible website.

All districts in Kentucky have complied with this new requirement.

Laurel County Superintendent Dr. Doug Bennett’s contract is among those posted on the Kentucky Department of Education website.  According to his contract, Bennett earns $122,000 per 240-day school year.  With an estimated total student body around 9,041, Bennett makes at or slightly below the average salary when comparing to local school districts with similar sized student bodies.

As seen in the chart above, Whitley County has approximately half the number of students of Laurel County, but their superintendent makes approximately $2,000 less per year than Bennett.

At the execution of Bennett’s contract, he was reported to live in Corbin. Section seven of that contract stipulated Bennett and his family move to Laurel County no later than nine months from the date of execution of the contractual agreement, which was signed 17 months ago, on April 27, 2012.

According to school officials, Bennett has yet to relocate.

The contract for East Bernstadt Independent Schools’ Superintendent Vicki Jones is also available on the Kentucky Department of Education website.

Jones’ contract sets her annual salary at $92,000 a year.  East Bernstadt Schools have a student body of approximately 525 students.

According to the Kentucky Department of Education website, in year’s past, East Bernstadt superintendents have made approximately $113,000 per year, almost $20,000 more than what Jones agreed to in her contract.

Jones, in the midst of her second year as superintendent, agreed to the contract for a five-year period.  Her contract will end on Dec. 31, 2017.

In a press release, the Auditor of Public Accounts ensures public resources are being protected, accurately valued, properly accounted for and effectively employed to raise the life of Kentuckians.

To learn more or to view current superintendent contracts, visit auditor.ky.gov or http://education.ky.gov/districts/FinRept/Pages/Superintendent-compensation.aspx.

 

rmcdaniel@sentinel-echo.com