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District responds to criticism of superintendentís salary increase
A conservative website has taken aim at Allen ISD after obtaining a copy of Superintendent Ken Helvey's renewed contract earlier this month.
The Red Apple Project, an Austin-based educational watchdog organization, gave AISD the Rotten Apple Award for "inefficient spending and ignoring cost effective alternatives" for its high-cost capital projects, administrator salaries in excess of teacher pay and Helvey's $233,000-per-year contract.
When StopTheBarn.org -- a group dedicated to ending the district's bus service center project as planned -- linked to the story on its Facebook page, it pointed out that the new contract increases Helvey's base pay by $8,000, questioning the implications of giving such a raise just six months after asking residents for a 13 cent tax rate increase in October.
District officials, however, say the increase coincided with the removal of a previously untaxed $8,000 travel allowance, meaning the superintendent is ultimately being paid the same amount he was under the prior contact. The only difference is that now he is subject to taxation on income that would otherwise be untaxed as a travel allowance.
The district was told this year it could no longer give the allowance to the superintendent on a post-tax basis, said Kent Turner, director of Human Resources for AISD. In an effort to make sure the superintendent did not make less this year than he did under the prior agreement, the board opted to approve a contract with the $8,000 increase in base pay.
"Bottom line, he's being taxed on money he hasn't been taxed on before," Turner said. "He's not making a dime more than he did last year."
The allowance was intended to cover various travel and business expenses, including automobile and electronic communication expenses. As with the previous contract, Helvey is also reimbursed for travel expenses incurred outside the Region 10 area. Such expenses may not, however, include automobile and communication expenses.
The new contract, which expires January 2016, supersedes the superintendent's 2007 contract and its subsequent extensions, which were given every year through 2011. Helvey's contract was last extended in January 2011, at which time his salary of $225,000 per year did not change compared to the prior year's extension.
Representatives from Plano ISD and Frisco ISD said their superintendents are reimbursed for travel expenses but do not receive an additional travel allowance.
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