By Donna Garner
Lake Travis ISD superintendent’s salary: $253,222 annual salary; $77,000 settlement separation; $20,000 extra contractual benefits = $351,222 — Americans for Prosperity created the Rotten Apple Award for just such occasions as this.
Yet the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) and Texas Association of Administrators (TASA), whose members pay dues using taxpayers’ dollars which are then used to pay lobbyists to lobby the legislature, still managed to convince the legislators to pass a bill that gives administrators more power to dump veteran classroom teachers at will, to cut teachers’ salaries, and to call for “furloughs” (days without pay) whenever there is a budget shortfall.
It certainly is not the classroom teachers who are skimming the money off the top of local school district budgets; it is the administrators. —
After the unexpected resignation of Superintendent Rocky Kirk last week, the Lake Travis school board is scheduled to name an interim replacement this morning and begin a search for a new district leader.
The district will pay Kirk a settlement of $77,000 upon separation. There is no mention of a separation payment in Kirk’s most recent employment contract; district officials said they could not comment on the agreement. One of the highest-paid superintendents in Central Texas, Kirk earns $253,222 annually, plus approximately $20,000 in benefits.
Once selected, a new superintendent will take the reins of a 6,974-student district that is growing at a clip of 6 to 7 percent annually and is expected to max out at 18,000 students by 2025, according to demographers’ estimates.
The 30-year-old district plans to put a $158.5 million bond package on the ballot in November.
Kirk, who was hired in 2002, cited personal reasons for his departure, effective July 31 . He was not present when the school board voted to accept his resignation Thursday night, and district officials offered no further explanation.
Kirk has been on personal leave for at least a couple of weeks, district officials said.
“He’s resigning for personal reasons, and that’s all I am at liberty to say,” said Jason Buddin, school board president.
Kirk’s contract was due to expire Dec. 31, 2014 .
In a statement released by the district on Thursday , Kirk thanked the school board and the community for their support during his nine-year tenure.
The Lake Travis district “has much to be proud of, and I know in my heart that this district will only continue to prosper,” Kirk said in the statement.
He did not return a call for comment.
Buddin called Kirk an “incredible leader” and said accepting his resignation was “difficult.”
“We’re saddened to see Dr. Kirk leave,” Buddin said. “He has done a lot of great things for the district.”
Kirk had received positive performance reviews, Buddin said.
“We wish him the very best in his future, whatever that may be,” the board president said.
During Kirk’s tenure, the district grew about 52 percent.
It bounced between being rated academically acceptable and recognized for years under the state’s rating system, but last year it achieved a ranking of exemplary, the highest doled out by the state.
The district also passed two bond packages totaling more than $163 million in recent years: $126.8 million in 2005 and $36.3 million in 2003. District officials considered calling a bond election in 2008, but the sour economy dissuaded them.
November’s package will call for building two schools, expanding two schools, upgrading facilities and making other improvements.
However, the district recently failed to persuade voters to approve raising the operations portion of the property tax rate, so a bond referendum might also be difficult to pass, given the economy and a change of leadership.