We Need To Ask These Same Questions Of Our School Board

Questions For Our School Board
Has anyone in our community been provided any justification as to how our school board has increased our Superintendent's pay from $137,589 in 2006 to $246,824 in 2013?

Dianne (Brown) Critchlow first shows up as an assistant superintendent in 2002 in the MO DESE data. She was paid $98,005 that year. She was promoted to Superintendent in 2006 and was paid $137,589 that year. As you can see by the numbers below she has had salary increases as high as 17% in a single year since being promoted to Superintendent. Those salary increases were given despite the poor economic conditions at the time.

Superintendent Critchlow speaks quite often about the Flawed Education Funding Formula. However, it doesn't seem to be affecting her salary whatsoever. Perhaps our school board has a Flawed Superintendent Pay Scale Formula which should be fixed!

Superintendent Dianne Critchlow's Salary Year By Year
2002 -   $98,005
2003 - $102,633
2004 - $105,749
2005 - $108,663
2006 - $137,589
2007 - $152,068
2008 - $164,428
2009 - $192,586
2010 - $207,393
2011 - $215,276
2012 - $228,573
2013 - $246,824


Comparing Superintendent Salaries With Other Districts
Our school board is doing a great disservice to both our community and to all taxpayers across the state of Missouri by paying our Superintendent such a high salary!

School Budget Amounts
Fox's annual expenditures are half that of Rockwood and only about a third of the amount of Parkway. That seems like a huge reason to question why our Superintendent is being paid a higher salary than those other districts. The percentage of her salary compared to the annual budget is obviously much higher than those other districts. It definitely doesn't make sense that you would pay higher salary with half or 1/3 the annual budget of those other districts. Plus, you have to look at how much of that funding is coming from local taxes verses state taxes. Should Fox burden everyone in the state by paying our such a high salary?

Percentage of Local Taxes
What's wrong with asking 42.29% of the taxpayers in the state of Missouri to pick up the tab for our overpaid superintendent? Only 50.73% of Fox's funding comes from Local Taxes while 42.29% comes from the state and the remaining amount comes from federal taxes. Therefore, our school board is burdening state tax payers with having to pick up nearly half the tab of Superintendent Critchlow's over the top salary. If school districts like Kirkwood and Lindbergh want to pay their superintendents a large salary, at least they are putting that burden on their own community. Let's not forget that the school district (aka taxpayers) is also paying another 14.5% on top of all certified salaries into Missouri's Public School Retirement System.

Transparency Issues
Transparency has been one of Fox's biggest problems. This is probably the number one reason that we have such a problem at Fox. Who is to blame for this? Our Superintendent and our school board. Our Superintendent is required to keep the board and the public informed about what is going on within our school district. However, it is definitely to our superintendent's advantage to not be forthcoming with information. If the public is kept in the dark about what's happening in the district, you have no reason to be asking questions. If you do ask questions, you most likely won't get a response or the district will make it expensive or time consuming to obtain the information.

However, it is the school board's job to make sure that the public is kept informed about how the district is performing and how it is spending your money. Fox spent more than $135 Million Dollars last year of taxpayer money. Do you trust that they are handling your money wisely? Without your ability to review how your money is being spent, you will never know. The same logic applies to hiring employees, salary schedules and how much and on what the district is spending your bond issue dollars on.

It has become pretty apparent that we can't "just trust" what our Superintendent tells the community. Below are some of the questions that I have asked our school board and have never received responses for or have received unacceptable responses as to why they couldn't do things. By not responding, it becomes quite clear that the district doesn't want you to know what's going on.

If our superintendent is one of the top paid superintendents in the state, then she should be keeping the community just as informed as the other school districts that have superintendents making far less than she does!
  • Why doesn't Fox Video and/or Audio Record school board meetings and post them on the district website like they do in other school districts? (Board meeting minutes don't reflect or document the meeting very well or very accurately on occasion. Our superintendent isn't going to publish details of Public Comments in the minutes that she doesn't want the Public to know about.)
  • Why doesn't Fox post their Annual Budget on the district website like they do in Rockwood and other school districts?
  • Why haven't 2013-2014 Salary Schedules been published?
  • Why did it take more than 2 years of requests to get the school district to post school board meeting packets with check payment listings onto the district website? (The district just started posting board meeting packets in February 2013. An additional request had to be made to get them posted to the beginning of the school year.)
  • Why won't the district post board packets dating back to the 2008-2009 to match the school board meeting minutes published on the website? (The board meeting minutes are pretty meaningless without the board meeting packets. This question has been asked several times with no response.)
  • Why doesn't Fox publish the board meeting minutes within 3 days of a school board meeting like they do in other districts? (This question has been asked several times as well.)
  • Why didn't Fox publish the August 2012 Bond Issue Budget on the district website until I requested it?
  • Why did Fox remove the August 2012 Bond Issue Budget from the district website right after the Bond Issue passed when our Superintendent thanked the community? (I requested that the 2012 Bond Issue Budget get reposted onto the district website but received no response and the data has not been reposted.)
  • Why did it take several years of asking to get the district to provide individual email addresses for our school board members?
Enrollment and Number of Schools
Fox has only half the number of students as Rockwood and only a little more than half the number of schools as Rockwood and Parkway. Lee's Summit's superintendent is making more than Superintendent Critchlow, but Lee's Summit also has nearly a third more the number of students than Fox.

Academic Performance
Lindbergh has been ranked #1 in the state in academics for 3 years in a row. So, their superintendent has something to show performance wise to validate his high salary. So, how does our school board justify paying Superintendent Critchlow more money than Lindbergh's superintendent? It is a perplexing question.

ACT Testing
Well, Fox is way behind most of the districts in both ACT Composite Scores and in the Percentage of Students taking the ACT. Fox has 40% fewer students taking the ACT test than Rockwood, Parkway and Kansas City. Fox has the lowest percentage of students taking the ACT of the top 10 highest paid superintendents in the state and by a significant amount. So, that's not a good comparison to justify why she is being paid a higher salary as well.

School Supplies
Has anyone ever questioned why Ridgewood Middle School requests that each student bring in 2 reams of copier paper for school supplies at the beginning of the year? Perhaps our school board members should reduce Superintendent Critchlow's salary and apply that money towards purchasing enough copier paper for the schools. It would also be helpful if they purchased enough books for each school as well. Our superintendent should be budgeting for those types of items as part of her job. Perhaps she isn't doing as good of a job as she tells the school board she's doing. It takes good leadership skills to hold people accountable. Somewhere there is a breakdown of accountability and we as taxpayers are paying the price as well as our students in the school district. This year Ridgewood Middle School is requesting a $6 fee for a locker combination and a school planner. I thought the lockers were already in the building.

Summary
It simply appears that there just isn't much data to justify paying Fox's superintendent the 4th highest salary in the state.Note that this ranking was for the 2012-2103 school year. We still don't know what her salary is going to be for the 2013-2014 school year. Based upon last year's salary schedule and what she was eventually paid for the year, she may have a salary at or above $260,000 for the 2013-2014 school year. That salary amount does not include benefits. Last year, the taxpayer was paying an additional 14.5% (at least $35,789) in addition to her salary into the Missouri Public School Retirement System as well.

Our community needs to wake up and start calling and emailing your school board members to let them know that this is unacceptable! Fox is not making the grade compared to Lindbergh, Rockwood or Parkway academically. So, to pay our superintendent more than their superintendents gives the appearance that our school board is just pulling numbers out of a hat.

If you were to compare the percentage of students taking the ACT as a comparison ratio to the percentage of students taking the ACT at Rockwood, Parkway and Kansas City, then her salary should be reduced by 40%.  That would put her salary more in line with what it should be.
The Missouri Education Watchdog website has an article from July 2013 titled, "You Might Need A New Superintendent If...". I recommend checking out this article as it is very appropriate.
Our school board members are accountable to the taxpayers that elected them to oversee our school district. They need to create a list of reasons as to why they believe our superintendent should be making this much money and post it on the district website.

Please contact your school board members and ask them to explain how our superintendent was worth $246,824 last year!

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