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July 7, 2015

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Education:

$270K annual salary may not be enough to attract next superintendent, board president suggests

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Paul Takahashi

Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones delivers his second annual “State of the District” address on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, at Western High School. Jones unveiled a new online “Open Book” portal, which makes the district’s financial information public, and touted the district’s academic gains last school year.

Updated Thursday, March 7, 2013 | 10:20 a.m.

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Clark County School Board President Carolyn Edwards called on her colleagues to re-examine the compensation package for future superintendents in light of Superintendent Dwight Jones' sudden resignation.

To remain competitive in the market, Nevada should offer better compensation for its district leaders, Edwards said.

"It's a difficult thing for us to do, and it's not popular in this community," Edwards said. "That's frustrating because whoever comes in is going to be the superintendent of the fifth-largest school district in the nation.

"It is hard work and we should compensate our superintendent for the work that they do. It may be that we need to look at a bonus or benefit package that supplements what we (give)."

Jones abruptly announced his departure Tuesday night. Jones cited personal reasons, saying his ailing mother in Dallas needed him.

During his two years in Las Vegas, Jones was paid an annual salary of $270,000. With benefits, Jones' annual take balloons to about $396,000, according to transparentnevada.com.

Jones, who said he worked long hours and weekends, also received many perks.

The School District provided a $150,000 life insurance policy; $15,000 for moving expenses; $4,000 per year for professional development; a $700-per-month car allowance; $660 per month to offset costs to attend off-hour community events; and 31 days of vacation per year.

Jones also was offered free housing for the first six months of his four-year contract. The Public Education Foundation, a local education nonprofit, collected $22,540 in public donations for the housing subsidy.

Six-figure superintendent salaries have come under greater public scrutiny as many cash-strapped school districts across the nation slashed budgets in the recession. Last month, the Clark County School District cut pay for about half of its 17,000 teachers after an arbitrator ruled in favor of the district in its bitter contract dispute with the teachers union.

Nationally, the average salary for a school superintendent during the 2009-10 school year was $159,634, according to an Education Research Service survey. In urban school districts with more than 25,000 students, the average compensation was more than $225,000.

The superintendent of the Clark County School District oversees a general fund budget of $2 billion. The School District is also the state's largest public employer with more than 36,000 employees and the state's largest school system with more than 311,000 students. Its food service department feeds 175,000 students each school day.

Advocates for school administrators have argued a CEO of a company with a $2 billion budget would be compensated millions of dollars. Critics argue taxpayer dollars should go to classroom and student resources, not superintendent salaries.

Edwards said she planned to ask the School Board to approve a cost analysis of superintendent salaries for the 15 largest school districts in the country. That study would inform the board about future superintendent compensation.

"This is a conversation the board needs to have," she said.

CORRECTION: This version corrects details of a housing subsidy provided to Jones. | (March 7, 2013)

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