Yesterday we raised some questions about how the Dallas Independent School District might handle the employment contract of Mike Miles, the district's new superintendent. Those details emerged last night -- you'll find Miles' address above -- and mostly fell in line with what we expected.
Below, in italics, are our questions from yesterday, followed by what transpired. The contract itself follows. The takeaway, generally speaking, is that HOLY SHIT WE'RE IN THE WRONG BUSINESS.
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.
Miles' base salary will be $300,000, the same as Hinojosa's (and more than almost any superintendent in the country, including New York's, Chicago's and LA's. The reality is, when you make someone your lone finalist and trot him out to the world as The Guy, you've got exactly zero leverage.
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.
The district signed Miles for three years with the option to extend, and it built in the exact longevity "bonus" we suggested: $50K extra if he sticks around through 2017. So, yes, he makes $300,000. But if he stays as long as he says he will -- he's pledged seven years -- he'll make $350,000.
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.
The board smartly put the kibosh on almost all consulting, barring a few days a year.
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.
Miles can earn a $75,000, vaguely defined annual performance bonus, plus another $125,000 a year if he hits student-achievement benchmarks set by the district.
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.
MIles will get a car and cell phone allowance, but he was promised no sail boats. I think you know who to thank for that.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.