Some 7,000 Texas government school staff and teachers account for $1 billion in annual costs to local and state taxpayers, a new report states.
In July, auditors for OpenTheBooks, a nonprofit government-spending watchdog organization, found 7,327 Texas public school superintendents, administrators, teachers, and athletic directors drew six-figure annual salaries. Less than 6 percent of the members of the $100,000 Club, as the study calls them, actively teach in a classroom, the study found.
‘Numbers That Jump Out’
Lennie Jarratt, project manager for the Center for Transforming Education at The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News, says it’s obvious something is wrong with Texas’ government school system.
“The biggest numbers that jump out, and the ones that people should be paying attention to, are the 7,300 educators making around six figures,” Jarratt said. “Some principals are making over $300,000 annually. There’s a huge imbalance somewhere in the system.”
Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and founder of Open the Books, says public school officials are receiving lavish perks financed by taxes and debt.
“There were pampered superintendents receiving huge severance pay for terminated contracts and massive salaries at districts with growing debt,” Andrzejewski said. “It’s important for taxpaying Texans to know how their money is being spent at the public school level across the state.”
Unions, Boards vs. Taxpayers
Jarratt says labor unions and public school boards have created a feedback loop that continually ratchets spending upward.
“From my history of looking at school boards and how they operate, they are essentially controlled by the teachers unions,” Jarratt said. “These unions elect their own people into the school boards and into these higher-paid positions, and then when they ramp up these superintendents’ and principals’ salaries, they can justify spending more for teachers’ salaries, and it turns into a symbiotic relationship where the spending of tax dollars just increases and increases.”
Andrzejewski says the public must demand more accountability from government school officials and politicians.
“Taxpayers in Texas must ask the hard-hitting questions at the local level and demand transparency and fiscal responsibility in their own school districts,” Andrzejewski said. “You can’t fund children’s education when you’re funding an education bureaucracy.”