Bill would publish Nebraska superintendents’ salaries, benefits

By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska lawmakers gave first-round approval Thursday to a bill that would require school boards to publish superintendents’ proposed pay and benefits before and after approving their contracts.

SHOW US THE MONEY: A bill that would require Nebraska school districts to publish the salary and benefits they are considering giving superintendents passed the first round of approval today.

Sen. Jim Scheer, R-Norfolk, introduced the Superintendent Pay Transparency Act, or LB470, which would require publication of proposed superintendent contracts — with an estimate of all current and future costs — at least three days before the meeting where the contract would be voted on. The contracts would have to be prominently displayed on the school district website.

After the contract is approved, the school board would have to file a copy of the contract with the state Department of Education, which would post all contracts on its website. State aid would be withheld for schools that don’t comply.

The bill was amended on the floor of the Legislature Thursday to include educational service unit administrators.

“This simply gives an opportunity for the public and school districts to see what their neighbors and others are doing,” said Sen. Kate Sullivan, D-Cedar Rapids.

Sen. Mike Gloor, R-Grand Island, expressed concern about the bill, saying when he worked in human resources employees would compare paychecks after raises were doled out. He said the information would be used to beat up school officials for not earning their pay, and would likely be used as leverage to get higher salaries.

“I like the transparency piece,” he said. “It’s hard to argue that, certainly, with constituents.”

Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh, R-Omaha, lauded the bill, saying some Omahans were surprised to learn what was in an outgoing superintendent’s compensation package.

“I think this is a tremendous idea,” he said. “It lends transparency, and that’s not a bad thing.”

Lautenbaugh said the proposal dovetails with bills he introduced Wednesday that would switch community college and educational service unit boards from elected to appointed positions. He also tried to pass an amendment eliminating the state board of education, saying there are so many levels of education bureaucracy that it’s “utterly baffling and impenetrable to the average voter.”

“Where does responsibility lie?” he asked. “They all cost money, they all exist and it would be a shock if your next door neighbor could pick any of them out of a lineup.”

Contact Deena Winter at deena@nebraskawatchdog.org. Follow Deena on Twitter at @DeenaNEWatchdog

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