Making Public Information Public

Fluvanna teachers’ salaries are all over the internet.  They’re on the school website and published in the minutes of county meetings.  The same goes for our insurance benefits.  It doesn’t take a Freedom of Information Act request to find out all about teachers’ compensation.

For some reason, this isn’t the case for administrators’ salaries and benefits.  The same rules of transparency don’t seem to apply. Their compensation is public information, but not so readily available.  Here’s the problem; when information is hard to get, trust becomes an issue as people wonder WHY?

It’s true that the superintendent’s salary is fairly easy to find online.  But her full compensation is not.  And it’s eye opening.  I’m not saying she isn’t worth her compensation, I’m wondering why the salaries and benefits of administrators (including principals, directors, coordinators, and supervisors) are not as easily accessed as the open book of teacher compensation.

For example, anyone can see online that teachers’ benefits include $439 toward health ins. premiums, a tiny contribution toward VRS life ins, and a state mandated employer contribution toward retirement.  Other than sick leave, 3 personal days, and taxes everyone pays, I think that’s it.

The superintendent receives additional benefits I’ve never seen online, never heard discussed at sch brd meetings, and never seen referenced in the minutes of county meetings.  For example, in addition to her salary (a VEA representative requested this info last year through the Freedom of Info Act) Fluvanna’s superintendent receives her TOTAL premium for individual HEALTH AND DENTAL INS, she receives $500 PER MONTH TOWARD ANY ANNUITY OF HER CHOICE, $400 PER MONTH FOR USE OF HER PRIVATE VEHICLE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HER DUTIES (IN ADDITION to receiving reimbursement at the Board-approved rate per mile for business travel outside Fluvanna), up to $7000 FOR MEMBERSHIP IN PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS and REIMBURSEMENT OF CONTINUING EDUCATION EXPENSES, and ANNUAL REIMBURSEMENT of unused sick leave at 100% OF HER PER DIEM RATE OF PAY.  (I couldn’t resist capitalizing those benefits not extended to teachers.)

Again, these benefits may be typical for superintendents and Ms. Keller may be worth every penny.  My point is that their existence is probably news to almost everyone who’s paying for them.  Teachers’ compensation is widely reported in Ms. Keller’s budget information, and benefits are detailed and open to public scrutiny.  I’m suggesting the same standard of transparency should be applied to all levels of compensation to increase public trust in school budgeting.

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This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me.  The views and opinions expressed in the blog portion of this site are purely my own. Comments added by others are not necessarily my opinions and I am not responsible for their content.

13 thoughts on “Making Public Information Public

  1. I was told about the insurance part of the contract last year when we had to pay our own VRS life. It was hurtful because indirectly, I felt some of the funds saved by charging teachers higher premiums for health and life insurance were going to pay Mrs. Keller’s full amount. I know the point is not exactly what’s in the contract, but that nobody knows what’s in the contract, but it feels like truth takes a beating when her salary is reported at $134?,000. Let’s call it compensation instead, add in at least the extra monthly cash, and have a more realistic number to report to the public. Keeping things quiet does make people wonder why, and trust comes into the picture.

  2. Sure makes the whole, “We’re all in this together” speech she gives when handing out furlough days, pay cuts, and insurance hikes feel pretty empty.

  3. I want to keep to the point of the post (budget transparency can increase public trust – right?) but I can’t help thinking about all the money I spend on my class out of my own family’s pocket. THIS is why I have to buy my own classroom library, art supplies, instructional posters, and classroom incentives?

  4. I think being the superintendent to any school division would be a very stressful job, and decisions could never satisfy everyone. I would never want to be a principal, much less a superintendent. Never the less, basic honesty and trust between employees and administration is an important factor in a working relationship. We do not seem to have that in Fluvanna County, and it’s far deeper than not being told the total compensation package on the superintendent’s salary.

  5. I am very heartened that Perrie would include this post! As indicated by my pseudonym, I am the souse of a teacher who struggles under the lack of financial disbursement by the School Board, who in reality rubber stamp the Administration’s recommendations.

    The situation has become absurd and the general tax paying public is uninformed because teachers fear retaliation for speaking out. While the upper administration enjoys such perks, the Middle School teachers are instructed to toil under teaching a curriculum with zero budget.

    Now, how does one employ a curriculum with zero budget? Answer: With a lot of heart and capital coming out of one’s own pocket!

    Perrie recently endorsed FoFF (Focus On Fluvanna’s Future, never let them drop the “”o” ) but I would encourage teachers and tax payers to steer towards Fluvanna Now ( ) I hope that link works. There you will find members who have been pointing out these discrepancies for a YEAR. This crap is not new, just revealed. Come join those who have seen it happening!

  6. I don’t understand… If you wanted to make a decent salary and command high benefits… Why did you become a teacher?

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