School superintendents in the Washington, D.C. region’s largest districts take as much as 12 weeks of paid leave a year for “vacation, personal matters and professional travel to such destinations as Florida, Europe and Asia,” according to the Washington Post. The paid leave is in addition to salary and benefit packages ranging from $341,530 to $489,763.
Loudoun County, Va. Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III took a total of 60 days of paid leave between July 2007 and June 2008. Of those days, 49 were spent on several speaking engagements and tours in the U.S., Rome, Madrid, and Beijing in “pursuit of reinvigoration and professional growth.” Hatrick said he regularly works 13 hour days and on weekends.
The trips logged by the superintendents cost their school systems, on average, $5,636 for the year.
The superintendents’ leave tends to draw criticism from parents who question travel as a priority. “Travel to places like Florida, in the dead of winter, somebody should think twice,” said Lyda Astrove, a Montgomery County, Md. parent. “I think that we’ve got enough issues right here at home.” Critics also assert that superintendents have a responsibility to be in the office because of their high salaries.
School chiefs say, however, that travel is an important part of the job helping them keep abreast of current trends. Fairfax County, Va. Superintendent Jack D. Dale defended himself in an e-mail to the Post, “When you are superintendent of the 12th-largest school system in the country, you are expected to take a national leadership role in education.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.