File photo: DeSoto County Schools Supt. Cory Uselton speaks to the Rotary Club of Olive Branch in August 2021. (Bob Bakken/DeSoto County News)
According to a new report from the Mississippi Center of Public Policy (MCPP), just over half of the 50 highest-paid public officials in the state are school district superintendents and the DeSoto County School District (DCS) leader is one of those listed.
MCPP has released what it calls its “Fat Cat Report,” listing the salaries of the top-paid public officials. Twenty-six school superintendents are among the top 50.
The report is meant “not to criticize every highly paid public officials,” MCPP wrote in the release. “Some public officials are paid to do demanding jobs requiring specialized skills that generate public good. This report aims to trigger a debate about what we pay public officials.”
A positive light in the report was shown on DCS Supt. Cory Uselton, who is listed as the 10th highest-paid official in the state with a salary of $210,900 annually. That is an eight-percent increase from 2021, the report stated.
At the same time, it notes that DeSoto County Schools is ranked first in value for money per district and that the district is an “A”-rated district.
The annual Mississippi Fat Cat report ranks the highest-paid public officials in our state and compares their salaries to the average pay of a teacher, nurse, or State Trooper, as well as the average Mississippian.
Although higher-education salaries are provided out of public funds, MCPP excluded university salaries, as it believes that they sit outside the scope of the survey, which focuses on local, municipal, district, and state government salaries.
Some of the report findings are:
- The top 50 earn more than America’s 50 state governors. The combined cost of the top 50 salaries in Mississippi in 2022 is $9.6 million. If you add up the total pay of the 50 state governors across America, their combined salaries cost $7.2 million.
- All 50 earn more than Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, whose annual salary is listed as $122,160.
- Of the 50 salaried positions, only four are elected positions and the remaining 46 positions are appointed.
- Twenty-two school superintendents earn more than the Chief Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court.
- Only two of the top 50 are local city government employees.
MCPP offered five policy proposals to be considered.
- Require any salary increase above the federal Employment Cost Index (ECI) be approved by the state legislature. The ECI is a standard figure that accounts for the national rate of change for government pay raises in the country.
- Create a state-mandated formula to calculate the maximum allowable salary for superintendents.
- Cap more public sector pay below that earned by the state governor
- Education funding reforms: The high percentage of high salaries within school administration suggests the need for reforms regarding the way that school dollars are spent.
- Amend the Mississippi Code, which contains provisions limiting the salaries and compensation of public officials, but it also contains a provision that provides for so many exemptions as to render the limits essentially meaningless.
The Mississippi Center for Public Policy lists itself as a 501(c)3 non-profit, non-partisan organization that advocates for low taxes, light regulation, and limited government.
You can read the entire report on the MCPP website.