The Dallas Independent School District is expected to officially hire Mike Miles, a former Army Ranger and U.S. Senate candidate and the superintendent of a small school district in Colorado, as its top official later today. Although Miles was named a "lone finalist" a few weeks back, his hiring was a forgone conclusion. He's got the reformer bona fides the board wanted, and a commanding presence to go with them.
The only questions to be resolved are the details of his contract, which should be revealed tonight. Here's what we'll be looking for:
Salary. Miles makes just under $200,000 at his district in Colorado. His predecessor, Michael Hinojosa, made $330,000. But Miles is relatively inexperienced, the district is in a budget crisis, and there are already plans to hire a high-priced HR chief to bolster the district's hiring process -- which, if done right, could pay great dividends.
So: There doesn't seem any reason for DISD to top $275,000, which is about $30K more than the average salary of urban supes, according to a Morning News story from this morning.
Longevity. Board president Lew Blackburn told the News that among the factors being discussed today will be the length of Miles' contract. But the length seems less important than whether the deal is structured to encourage longevity.
It will take some creativity, but the board should try to tie up chunks of Miles' compensation in longevity bonuses. For instance: If his salary is $250,000 a year, he only gets $200,000 annually until he hits the four-year mark, at which point he gets his additional $50K per year.
Another idea: If he stays less than one year, he has to let Trustee Carla Ranger drive him to whichever school district he's ditching us for. Here's hoping it's Nova Scotia Unified and that Ranger's had a lot of caffeine.
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Consulting. Much has been made of Miles' side gig as an education consultant. He has said he won't be too involved in his for-profit consultancy, but he doesn't want to give it up entirely. Besides, he says, the gig gives him an opportunity to fly around the country to see what other districts are doing, and to apply those innovations back in Dallas.
But guess what? Stealing ideas from other districts is part of the job. The district should allow Miles to keep his stake in the company but make him do his consultant work on his own time. And since the job is pretty much a 24-7 one, that time should probably come out of his vacation hours.
Performance Bonuses. We know Miles favors performance-based pay for teachers, so you can count on the board building in some incentives based on how he fares. It would be interesting to see them tie some salary to something other than standardized test scores, which seem easily gamed and of questionable worth to begin with. Instead, tie some money to gaining back enrollment, creating stronger teacher pipelines or other innovations.
Sail Boats. The district should not buy Miles any sail boats. Given the budget crisis and lack of sailing options, that would be considerably weird.