LINCOLN — Salaries and benefits for Nebraska school superintendents would be posted online under a bill that received easy first-round approval Thursday in the State Legislature.
Lawmakers voted 28-0 to advance the bill to a second round of debate. If the bill wins two more rounds of support and is signed by the governor, school boards would have to start posting superintendent contracts after July 1.
Sen. Jim Scheer of Norfolk said his bill would afford more transparency so taxpayers and school board members clearly understand all of the costs associated with a district's top administrator.
Superintendent pay already is a public record, but salary contracts and fringe benefits are not always readily available for those who want to find them.
In 2011, The World-Herald revealed that retired Omaha Public Schools Superintendent John Mackiel's salary represented just 62 percent of his total estimated compensation of $413,607. Among the add-ons were a retention incentive, vacation payout and an annuity.
OPS board members later said they were surprised to realize the contract included a $1 million payout upon his retirement, in addition to his retirement pay.
Legislative bill 470 seeks to bring an end to such surprises, supporters said. While no one voiced opposition to the measure, Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island said an unintended consequence may be that it will make it easier for superintendents to negotiate for higher pay.
The bill also applies to salaries for administrators of Educational Service Units.
Salary information and contracts would have to be posted on websites operated by the schools and the Nebraska Department of Education.
School boards would have to post the information three days before approving contracts for existing superintendents or two days after completing negotiations with a new superintendent.
School boards that fail to post the contracts as required could have state aid funding withheld under the bill.