Dallas ISD: Communicating Waste

Taxpayers in Dallas upset about the $185,000 being spent on a communications director have new reasons to suspect that money is very poorly spent. Meanwhile, DISD teachers are supposed to be rejoicing at Miles’ generous $750 one-time performance bonus.

Just last week I was reassured by a Dallas County politico that the half-million-annual salary going to pay for Colorado transplant Mike Miles was going to be money well spent. I was specifically told that his value is seen in the high-caliber people he is bringing into DISD.

“What about the $185,000 annual salary for his communications director?” I naively asked.

I was told to just trust Mike Miles and his keen sense of education leadership. And the 19 new administrators he hired shortly after starting the job.

This is the same Mike Miles who this week announced all 18,000 district employees will be bused to a special meeting where they can hear Mike Miles talk about the Mike Miles vision for the future of the Mike Miles DISD. Sounds exciting – who wouldn’t want to see district dollars used to bus all the employees to such a milestravaganza! (The Dallas Observer notes that DISD says “[p]rincipals and department heads will be taking attendance.”)

It would seem that neither Mike Miles nor his communications team — headed by Jennifer Sprague — have seen the high-tech streaming Internet video capabilities of the school district. Or even Skype.

They should be now. His communications director demonstrated at a board meeting — broadcast live over the inter-webs — that she doesn’t know much about communication.

The Dallas Morning News‘ education blog offers a blow-by-blow of her miserable performance in front of her supervisors, the DISD Board of Trustees. When pressed on last-minute changes to a $162,000 contract for an outside communications firm, she had little to say and less to offer.

At her last gig — working with Miles in Colorado — she was making $86,000. The more-than-doubling of her salary coming to Texas with Miles put her pay above that of White House press secretary Jay Carney.

The Dallas Observer noted back in June just how outlandish Sprague’s salary really is:

Holy hell that’s a lot of money for that job. The top communications executive for the school district in New York City makes $125,000. Chicago: $165,000. Miami: $114,000. Las Vegas: Not exactly sure, but no one except the supe [sic] there appears to make more than $165,000. All of those school districts are larger than Dallas ISD, and the first three cities are more expensive than Dallas.

She makes far, far more than any professional teacher in Texas. Teachers who have to be fully prepared, every day, on their subject matter. Unlike Ms. Sprague, apparently.

It should be noted that Dallas ISD is suing the state for more money. Seems like the district could find some extra scratch by nixing its over-priced mis-communicator and cutting back on the over-paid administrators. But don’t hold your breath.

Take Action

JoinGive
Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael is president and CEO of Empower Texans. A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Sullivan is married with three children. He divides his time between the Metroplex, the rest of Texas, and Austin.

Read All Posts