Madison Metropolitan School District employee salaries

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Madison Metropolitan School District employee salaries are public records under the Wisconsin Open Records Law.

As of 2008, there were 379,539 employees working for the state of Wisconsin and local governments.[1] Out of these, 240,747 were full-time employees receiving net pay of $998,312,248 per month and 138,792 were part-time employees paid $123,619,591 per month.[1] More than 57% of those employees, or 218,585 employees, were in education or higher education.[1]

The following data for Madison Metropolitan School District was gathered from the district's April 26, 2011 response to a public records request submitted April 14, 2011. The custodian of records for the district at the time was Erik Kass.

The district was unable to provide data regarding personnel car usage for any district-provided vehicles and overtime hours for retiring personnel; further, information regarding mileage reimbursement and personnel cell phone usage iswaspending as of July 3, 2011. The district did not construe the lack of available data and pending data as a denial of the public records request.


One employee of the Madison Metropolitan School District was paid a salary of $150,000 or more. Superintendent David A. Nerad has earned over $150,000 per year since 2008.

Board member salaries

The rate of compensation for the seven board members of the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Board of Education is $350 per month, except for the President of the Board, who is compensated at a rate of $375 per month. For the period of January 1, 2008 - January 7, 2011, board presidents earned a total of $13,500 (calculated as 36 months x $375 per month) and the remaining board members earned a total of $75,600 (calculated as 6 members x $350/month x 36 months).

Position Compensation Total earnings (January 1, 2008 through January 7,2011)
President of the MMSD Board of Education $375 per month $13,500
Board of Education Members (six members) $350 per month $75,600

Board members do not receive benefits from the district.

Phone use

The district receives monthly bills from cell phone providers of district employees.

Salary records project

In 2011, Sunshine Review chose 152 local governments as the focus of research on public employee salaries. The editors of Sunshine Review selected eight states with relevant political contexts (listed alphabetically):

1. California
2. Florida
3. Illinois
4. Michigan
5. New Jersey
6. Pennsylvania
7. Texas
8. Wisconsin

Within these states, the editors of Sunshine Review focused on the most populous cities, counties and school districts, as well as the emergency services entities within these governments. The purpose of this selection method was to develop articles on governments affecting the most citizens.

The salary information garnered from these states were a combination of existing online resources and state Freedom of Information Act requests sent out to the governments.

Importance of public employee pay disclosure

In July 2010, The Los Angeles Times uncovered that officials in Bell, California were making remarkably high salaries.[2] Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo was earning a yearly $787,637. It was later uncovered that Rizzo's total compensation after taking benefits into account topped $1.5 million a year.[3]

For comparison:[2]

  • Manhattan Beach, with about 7,000 fewer people than Bell, paid its most recent city manager $257,484 a year.
  • Long Beach, with a population close to 500,000, paid its city manager $235,000 annually.
  • Los Angeles County paid its chief executive, William T. Fujioka, $338,458.

Corruption solution

After this report was released, governments began to proactively disclose salary information of their employees. Before the end of the summer of 2010, more than a dozen cities in Orange County, for example, posted salary information on the front pages of their websites.[4]

The cost of transparency websites maintaining such information ranges from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands. These websites also save money, and this often is not taken into account when measuring costs.

Citizens upset about the breach of trust and armed with information formed a group called the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse, which pushed for an independent audit of city salaries and contracts.[5]

Citizens, empowered with information, are key to keeping government free from corruption and efficient. A study published by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia revealed that the city of Philadelphia has a problem with the efficiency and costs of public employee pensions.[6] The amount that Philadelphia pays to pension recipients limits the city’s ability to use its budget effectively.

The report revealed that there were more individuals receiving pension benefits—33,907 claimants in 2006—than workers in the city—28,701.[6] The authors of the study recommend three steps towards addressing the problem of high costs in pensions.[6] First, improve data collection so that decision-making in terms of pension policies is more informed. Second, promote transparency for better accountability to citizens. Third, reduce costs and use the savings for developing Philadelphia.

Resistance to public employee salary data as public records

The idea of making public employee salaries is relatively new. In 2008, several local government employee associations and unions protested the posting of state employee salaries by newspaper The Sacramento Bee.[7][8] At the time, it was seen as a safety risk and invasion of privacy.

Sunshine Review aims in posting salary information

Publicly posted salaries often leave out important information. Salary schedules can be published as ranges, not as specific take-home compensation, and high-level, highly-paid positions are often not disclosed proactively.[4][3] Additionally, salaries leave out compensation received through health and retirement benefits, as well as benefits such as commuter allowances and cell phone reimbursements. This project aimed to close the gap and provide a more accurate picture of public employee salaries for the sake of public education and transparency.

See also

External links