Public school superintendents are some of the highest paid public employees in Texas, with some raking in more than $400,000 annually, excluding benefits.

Among those at the top end of the pay scale is Arlington ISD’s superintendent who, thanks to a recent contract renewal, saw his annual salary grow from $334,318 in the 2020-21 school year to $361,597.98 today. That compensation figures goes even higher when adding in the value of the benefits offered.

For instance, the renewed contract guarantees longevity pay to the superintendent, which is supposed to incentivize sticking with the district. These bonuses—paid only for keeping your job—are quite substantial and grow every year of the five-year term.

Assuming AISD’s superintendent remains in place for the first full year of the contract, then he is guaranteed “an additional twelve percent (12%) of his monthly salary per month for twelve months beginning on January 1, 2022.” Twelve percent of the superintendent’s annual salary amounts to $43,392.

Each year he remains employed with the district, the longevity bonus grows by 1% until it reaches its apex in year five. At that point, it increases to 15% of pay, which comes to $54,240 (assuming he doesn’t get a raise over the next few years).

The contract also provides a $5,000 annual expense “to become a member of clubs in the community and to participate in professional associations and community and civic affairs.” There’s also money set aside for life and disability insurance; a supplement for taxes; contributions to a retirement account; health care for the administrator and his family; and a lump sum payment for unused vacation days.

And then there’s this.

Included in the contract is a commitment to “pay or reimburse the Superintendent for reasonable expenses incurred by the Superintendent in the continuing performance of the Superintendent’s duties under this Contract.

Wanting to know more, I recently submitted a Public Information Act request to the district asking for details on the compensation provided under this clause. I specifically asked for:

  • For Calendar Year 2021 (January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021), please provide a list of “reasonable expenses” that were paid for or reimbursed by the District on account of Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, as stipulated in the superintendent’s employment contract.

Here is the list returned by the district (with some light editing):

And so, based on the information returned, we can see that the superintendent received an extra $6,116 in compensation last year, most of which appears to have paid for membership dues and conferences (during COVID-19, no less).

So what do we make of all of this? Perhaps the biggest takeaway is that public schools—and school superintendents in particular—have no shortage of funding. It’s simply being spent in a lot of ways that don’t directly benefit the classroom.