Golden Parachutes for Bureaucrats
Joplin Superintendent C. J. Huff announced his retirement last month despite his contract expiring in 2018. A sunshine request from the Joplin Globe revealed the details of the separation agreement.
Superintendent Huff has been credited with helping rebuild the Joplin community after 2011’s devastating tornado. He was the 2013 Missouri Superintendent of the Year and a finalist for National Superintendent of the Year.
That said, the agreement still has some big numbers. Huff will continue to earn his regular paycheck until he retires on June 30. From July 1, 2015, to December 31, 2016, Joplin will pay Huff a total of $262,912.50 in additional compensation. According to the Kansas City Star, “the agreement requires Huff and the district not to criticize each other, and bars Huff from suing the district.” Huff will also receive $50,000 to “assist the new superintendent,” starting in June 2016.
According to the salary schedule for the Joplin Public Schools, a teacher would have to earn a master’s degree and make it to the 26th pay step in order to make $50,000 a year. That is some expensive advice.
This revelation raises a lot of questions. The first, of course, asks, Is this the best use of district funds? Clearly Superintendent Huff was a talented leader, but those 312,000-plus dollars could hire nine new teachers at the starting point on the district’s salary scale.
More than anything, this signals a need for public school finance transparency. A sunshine request from an intrepid reporter shouldn’t be necessary to get these facts into the open. How can taxpayers hold school boards accountable when they don’t even know how their tax dollars are being spent? Watch this video to hear how one legislator feels about public school spending and transparency.