Maryland's K12 Public School Compensation Transparency

Case studies of the dismal politics, policy, and practice of
K12 compensation transparency in Maryland

This website focuses on documenting the public’s practical difficulty in accessing K12 public school compensation data in Maryland. It was born out of my disgust at the shenanigans some public school officials play when the public seeks to access controversial compensation information and the cowardice and hypocrisy of Maryland lawmakers in turning a blind eye to this problem.

The politics of addressing this problem in Maryland are admittedly awful. But I’m confident that eventually the problem will be solved because it is a fundamental tenet of democracy that the people should know both how and what their government agents are paid.  When government agents can effectively hide their compensation from the people, their abuse of this power will eventually be unsustainable. At least, that’s the theory of democracy. The practice, of course, may be different.

I am a former public school board member with a Ph.D. in American Government and an MBA.  I hope you find both my articles and documentation to be enlightening.

--J.H. Snider

September 17, 2018

Articles

Snider, J.H., Should Anne Arundel raise local taxes to fund increased senior teacher pay?, Washington Post, June 13, 2019. For the original article links, see here.

Snider, J.H., Schools must improve spending transparency, Capital, January 3, 2019. Note: this is a letter-to-the-editor, not article.

Snider, J.H., Prince George’s County pension-spiking is ripping off Maryland taxpayers, Washington Examiner, September 17, 2018.

Snider, J.H., Seek equal pay for equal work? Don’t become a K-12 teacher, Hechinger Report, June 29, 2017.

Snider, J.H., America’s $1 million per year K12 public school teachers, Washington Examiner,April 27, 2017.  This op-ed calls for the use of accrual accounting in the reporting of K12 compensation at an individual level.

Snider, J.H., Maryland should be truthful in reporting teacher payWashington Post, February 17, 2017.  This op-ed calls for machine-readable, online disclosure of K12 salary data, including the methodology by which it is reported.

Snider, J.H., Is the AACPS School Board Embarrassed by the Incoming Superintendent’s Compensation?Watchdog Wire, June 3, 2014.

Snider, J.H., It’s the Public’s Data: Democratizing School Board Records, Education Week, June 14, 2010.

Snider, J.H., Maryland’s fake open government, Washington Post, April 18, 2010.

Snider, J.H., Democratize School Budget Data, Education Week, May 20, 2009. These ideas are being implemented XBRL US’s State & Local Government Disclosure Modernization Working Group.

Snider, J.H., “Public School Systems Should Post Compensation Data Online,” Washington Examiner, March 18, 2009.

Snider, J.H., Need Teachers? Show Them the Money, Washington Post, February 8, 2009

Snider, J.H., America’s Million-Dollar Superintendents: Should public schools’ financial statements look more like public companies’?, Education Week, December 11, 2006.

Correspondence

Correspondence with the Maryland State Department of Education

Highlights: MSDE refuses to provide statewide salary data, claiming that that information is exempt under Maryland’s licensing law and that I will have to request the information county-by-county via the Public Information Act. MSDE board members are sympathetic to the public’s difficulty accessing meaningful salary data from MSDE but don’t believe it’s politically realistic to try to solve the problem. MSDE blows off Maryland’s new Public Information Act Ombudsman, recognizing she has no power. To follow the correspondence, it may be easiest to start at the earliest date (the bottom post below) and then move up to later dates.

Public Information Act Correspondence with Maryland’s Public Information Act Ombudsman

J.H. Snider’s correspondence with the Maryland State Department of Education from May 2, 2017 to August 2, 2017 concerning MSDE’s violation of the Public Information Act concerning its reporting of K12 public school salary data, statistics, and statistical methodologies. The Ombudsman has no subpoena or enforcement power.

read more

Correspondence with Prince George’s County Public Schools

Highlights: PGCPS claims that the PGCPS Board of Education did not estimate outgoing Superintendent Kevin Maxwell’s deferred compensation as part of its severance agreement with him.

Correspondence with Anne Arundel County Public Schools

Highlights: In response to a series of Public Information Act requests for comprehensive compensation related information at the individual level, AACPS arbitrarily and without explanation excludes certain categories of remuneration known as pay codes.  Copied below is only the latest of a series of more than a half dozen PIA requests over more than a decade.  Other sets of correspondence will be posted as time permits.

Correspondence with Anne Arundel County Public Schools

Highlights: AACPS’s Public Information Officer doesn’t include his compensation and job description information in response to a Public Information Act request.  The PIO Officer is arguably the second most powerful staff member in AACPS after the superintendent.

Correspondence with Maryland State Retirement and Pension Information

Highlights: The Maryland State Retirement Agency refuses to provide information on an extraordinary salary increase immediately prior to retirement that would significantly boost an employee’s pension. More generally, the Retirement Agency has consistently refused to provide deferred compensation data necessary to calculate an employee’s total compensation package.