Speak Out!

July 02, 2006

LAST WEEK'S ISSUE -- Kevin M. Maxwell, the new county school superintendent, will earn an annual base salary of $225,000 under a four-year contract approved by the Board of Education. That makes Maxwell the fifth-highest-paid superintendent in Maryland, based on 2005-2006 salaries compiled by the state Department of Education. Added provisions push Maxwell's total compensation package to about $275,000, according to the school system. Those provisions include an annual performance bonus of about 10 percent of his base salary and an annual $15,000 payment to a retirement fund for each year he is with the school system.

In addition, he receives a $750 monthly car allowance, a cellular phone and a home computer with Internet access paid for by the board. Before taking any sick time earned while in Anne Arundel, Maxwell will be allowed to use the 261 days of sick leave he accrued while working in Montgomery County.

Eric J. Smith, who stepped down as superintendent last year, had a compensation package of about $300,000 annually.

Do you believe that Maxwell is being appropriately paid to oversee a school system with about 75,000 students?

Compensation plan lacks accountability

I was astonished at the amount of compensation that the new Anne Arundel County school superintendent will receive. It is a ridiculous overpayment.

It said he would receive a 10 percent annual performance bonus; I assume that is for a positive improvement in the student test results and positive improvement in school conditions. There should also be a negative performance salary reduction of at least 25 percent for non-improvement of school conditions or student test scores, that seems only fair.

Furthermore, the parents of Anne Arundel County students in an annual referendum should decide the awarding of either a positive or negative performance bonus. The parents of students are the only ones who can correctly tell which is deserved. Your article also states that the school board is providing, at taxpayer expense, a cell phone, computer and Internet access. If this is true, then the county taxpayers must be provided a monthly detailed listing of calls made on the cell phone, the history of Internet activity and use on the computer to confirm that everything is school-related.

Your article further states that the new superintendent will receive a $750 vehicle allowance. Unreal. Again, the county taxpayers must be provided a copy of the monthly usage log and accounting of the use of this allowance. It is apparent that the Anne Arundel County school board is not accountable to the parents of the school system or county taxpayers. If they were held accountable, after reading this salary information, the school board would be given the same treatment that the legislature just gave the state Public Service Commission - booted out - and school board members would be found that would be willing to improve school conditions and student performance and not spend limited dollars so recklessly.

Lee Marshall Gambrills

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