Is a $14,400 annual travel stipend too small?
Feel free to request $6,000 in additional “conference travel” costs …you deserve it!
Even with the SC Department of Education expecting to deal with significant budget cuts, not a word has been said about district superintendent salaries and benefit packages. Classroom instruction and school buses might feel the bite of limited funds, but not the taxpayer-funded expense accounts of unaccountable district superintendents.
Just yesterday The Voice exposed the incredibly wasteful and unwarranted personal spending by the superintendent of Barnwell 19 school district. Sadly this kind of waste is the norm in many school districts around South Carolina.
Spartanburg County public schools are often held up as being some of the best achieving public schools in the state. Spartanburg School District 3 is among these.
What most parents in Spartanburg School District 3 probably do not know, is the extraordinarily large amount of money spent on and by Jim Ray, the District 3 superintendent.
The median income for a family living in Spartanburg County is about $45,000. Per capita income for the county is only $18,738.
Though 67% of students in the district are living in poverty, Ray has carved out an incredibly lucrative position for himself. In contrast to the families he “serves,” Ray makes an incredible $142,063 for leading and directing the under performing schools in District 3. This salary is over three times as much as the average family in his district, even before factoring in the $14,400 annual stipend for “local mileage,” and $1446 a year for dues to SCASA and the Rotary Club!
How do the schools under his care perform? Certainly Ray’s generous $151,909 salary package is justified by equally high performance?
Wrong. This is what the families in Spartanburg School District 3 are paying for-
The average 2008 SAT score in Spartanburg District 3 was only 1002, 15 points below the national average. Any claim at being a high achieving district is based on the notoriously underachieving districts elsewhere in South Carolina. Similar districts in North Carolina had average scores up to 177 points higher than the scores in Spartanburg District 3.
2008 PACT scores were also disappointingly low.
District-wide, only 47.2% of the 3rd graders in the district were proficient or advanced in English/Language Arts. This number dropped to 31% for 8th graders.
Only 27.2% of 3rd graders were proficient or advanced in mathematics. Only 14.5% of 8th graders were proficient or advanced in mathematics!
Poor minority students in the district fare even worse, with only 14.2% of 8th graders scoring proficient or advanced in English/Language Arts compared to the 34% of their white classmates. In mathematics, only 2.9% of black students scored proficient or advanced in mathematics, compared to the 17.3% of white 8th graders!
We would be doing wrong to say that this is all the taxpayers in District 3 are funding. Apparently Ray’s travel needs can not be met with his $14,400 a year stipend. In addition to this generous allowance, Ray ran up a $6,000 tab in “conference travel” costs and handed it straight to the economically disadvantaged residents in his district!
In the 2007-2008 school year, Ray’s personal travel expenditures to “conferences” could have purchased 1,846 gallons of diesel fuel.
Here are a few of Ray’s more important spending choices:
SCASA Superintendent’s Summer Conference: $1,531.71 How was Kingston Plantation?
SCASA Superintendent’s Winter Conference: $708.13 No doubt a productive follow up on the SCASA Summer Junket.
AASA Superintendent’s Conference: $1,831.24 How many people in District 3 could afford to do this? It doesn’t matter, they still paid for it!
No matter how bad the economic situation becomes, some people can use their position as “public servants” to insulate themselves from the problems afflicting the people they claim to serve. Jim Ray has clearly put himself in this position. He is above the worries of budget cuts, and above the worries of the children in the schools he oversees. The audacity of somebody in this position complaining about budget cuts, or asking for more money is astounding. Districts have ample money to meet their needs, even during an economic downturn. Measures must be put in place to ensure that this money is being used wisely and effectively to educate children. Those who are not capable of doing this need to be replaced with someone who will.