Public employees earn public salaries. Everybody is okay with that, yet in the case of Tony Smith, Illinois' state school superintendent, lawmakers are figuartively flogging him in the public square over his compensation.
Smith has a $225,000 salary and a stipend which, some say, is meant to make up for the fact that as a new hire, he is not eligible for the newer – and less lucrative – Tier II pension system.
“I think the opportunity to really understand what the contributions are – it's their responsibility, it's their duty (to ask about it). I am a Tier II employee with Tier II benefits, and I think they just wanted to understand my contract in that context.,” Smith says. He characterized the negotiations which led to his deal as lawyerly language which began with Smith asking for the same deal his predecessor received. “For me, the compensation side is different than the pension side,” he added.
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Smith is not the only top administrator earning a good deal more than your child's classroom teacher. The new secretary of education, Beth Purvis, makes $250,000, which, to lawmakers' consternation, is paid out of the state's human services budget.
Smith says his and the Illinois State Board of Education's jurisdiction is “the work of really coordinating and supporting the 850-plus districts in the state of Illinois … (to) manage and improve student performance. The work that the secretary is doing is with the other state agencies.”
Smith reports to the board. Purvis reports to the governor.