The answer: 173.

In response to a Public Information Act request, officials the Dallas Independent School District revealed that “the number of employees at $100,000 and above in salary” during the 2014 school year had reached 173. That figure, of course, only references the number of employees with a base salary of or in excess of six-figures and does not include other forms of compensation like health benefits and retirement programs.

Over the last five years, the number of DISD employees earning at or above the $100,000 mark has seen lots of growth. In 2010, the district employed 118 employees that earned six-figures. By 2014, however, DISD had 173 employees earning that much, almost a 50 percent increase in 5 years.

Digging into the data further reveals that, on the whole, DISD administrators earn far more than their peers. Average actual salaries for DISD central administrators totaled $114,773—more than $20,000 above the statewide average and greater than administrators in Houston ISD and Northside ISD. 

Figures include base salary only.

Extravagant employee salaries are symptomatic of a larger spending problem in DISD. The district’s inability to be judicious with its finances has, among other things, propelled its total debt load to more than $4.3 billion and thrust it into the spotlight as the largest and most heavily indebted district in the state (see pg. 11). And all while the district’s student population growth has all-but-stagnated.

As if these fiscal facts weren’t bad enough, it was revealed earlier this month that DISD officials are eyeing a new proposal “to spend $1.5 billion to build new schools, renovate campuses and expand academic programs,” according to the Dallas Morning News. Officials want to pay for the one-and-a-half billion dollar package with a combination of higher taxes and new debt issued by a “public facility corporation,” an entity created and governed by the district that can issue debt without voter approval.

This is bad public policy at its worst, and yet another indication that DISD’s finances headed in the absolute wrong direction.