Just days before starting just his second school year as Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent, Jack R. Smith received a pay raise from the Board of Education.
At the August 31 meeting, the Board of Ed voted unanimously to increase Smith’s annual pay by $15,000 to $290,000 per year. Smith started the second year of a four-year contract on July 1.
After acknowledging the vote, Board of Education President Michael Durso said, “Dr. Smith it is very important to acknowledge all that you have to done for us, and we look forward to a long and continued relationship with you as you move our school system forward.”
Prior to the vote, Durso made a point of saying that the increase is something the Board of Education is requesting. “Let me just make sure that our staff, parents, and community at-large is aware that this action that we are about to vote on originated through the Board. Dr. Smith as not requested a salary increase. He has not requested that we relook at his contract. I think it is important to know that because I suspect there may be some speculation to the contrary.”
After the vote, Smith said, “Thank you for the vote of confidence. I am very appreciative. It feels very awkward at this moment, but I’m very happy here. It’s a good place to work and to live.”
Prior to being hired by MCPS in March of 2016 and officially taking the reins of the school system which is the 17th largest in the country with 159,000 students, Smith was the Superintendent of Schools in Calvert County, which has just 15,600 students.
The increase brings Smith’s salary in line with the salaries of top schools’ chiefs in neighboring districts, such as Fairfax County, Howard County, and Prince George’s County.
The move was criticized by Dan McHugh, of Concerned Taxpayers of Montgomery County, as being “out-of-control spending” by the Board after MCPS demanded more money of taxpayers last year resulting in an 8.7 percent property tax increase in 2016.
“Now the School Board has granted Dr. Smith a $15,000 raise meaning he will now make close to $300,000 a year,” said McHugh. “By law, nearly 50 percent of Montgomery County's $5 billion operating budget goes to Montgomery County Public Schools, where 90 percent of that $2.5 billion goes to salaries and benefits leaving very little money for much else.”
“We have no doubt in two years MCPS will be demanding more money and wanting another property tax increase to pay for it,” continued McHugh. “The problem at MCPS is not revenue — it is how it is spent, and if this process is not fixed this out of control spending will continue. It goes back to the question are we getting our money's worth right now at Montgomery County Public Schools?”
Caption: Superintendent Jack R. Smith greets students at Neelsville Middle School on the first day of school for MCPS in 2016. It was the first day of Smith's tenure as superintended.
File photos by Germantown Pulse.