Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen and Education Commissioner Terry Holliday have begun calling for superintendent contracts, benefits and annual evaluations to be made available online.
Examinations of some districts across the state have revealed a lack of transparency, with the auditor’s revealing that some superintendents were receiving additional benefits and payments not authorized by their boards or not realized by the general public.
Coleman and Boyle County Superintendent Mike LaFavers each stressed the importance of Holliday’s quest for transparency, explaining they had been striving for it for years in their respective districts.
“We are very data-driven,” LaFavers said of the Boyle school system, adding that educators in general often are driven by data to gauge what is working and what isn’t within their schools. “If it’s good, you celebrate it. If It’s not great, you work on it.”
“If we’re doing that as a district, then I think, likewise, as the leader of the district, the superintendent needs to be transparent as well,” he said.
Coleman echoed these sentiments, explaining it is “important to follow the same rules” that other district employees are expected to follow in relation to raises and extras.
While neither wanted to disparage their fellow superintendents, both stressed that “most” are honest, attempting to do their best for the kids in their districts; however, “it only takes a few to put a cloud over (the job),” Coleman said.
Examples of those, LaFavers pointed out, are the districts that have drawn the attention of the auditor.
Some of those include a former Mason County superintendent and a former Dayton Independent superintendent who each were receiving compensation from the district beyond what was authorized by their respective boards of education.
Holliday has plans for stricter requirements on superintendent evaluations and for ethics and fiscal oversight training for school board members.
Superintendents are on a four-year cycle, after which their contracts must be renegotiated. For Coleman and LaFavers, that time will happen this year, and each will begin evaluating the terms of their contracts with the districts.
The terms of their contracts and benefits, which is information available to anyone willing to file an open records request, will soon be accessible on the Kentucky Department of Education’s website, something Coleman and LaFavers are not bothered by.
This posting will be per the request of Commissioner Holliday and will show information for every district in the state. The department is expected to begin notifying all school board chairmen of the requirements for reporting information about the superintendents, along with the deadlines.