Here's What We Want to Know About New DISD Superintendent Mike Miles' Contract

The Dallas Independent School District is expected to officially hire Mike Miles, a former Army Ranger and U.S. Senate candidate and the superintendent of a small school district in Colorado, as its top official later today. Although Miles was named a "lone finalist" a few weeks back, his hiring was a forgone conclusion. He's got the reformer bona fides the board wanted, and a commanding presence to go with them.

The only questions to be resolved are the details of his contract, which should be revealed tonight. Here's what we'll be looking for:

Salary. Miles makes just under $200,000 at his district in Colorado. His predecessor, Michael Hinojosa, made $330,000. But Miles is relatively inexperienced, the district is in a budget crisis, and there are already plans to hire a high-priced HR chief to bolster the district's hiring process -- which, if done right, could pay great dividends.

So: There doesn't seem any reason for DISD to top $275,000, which is about $30K more than the average salary of urban supes, according to a Morning News story from this morning.

Longevity. Board president Lew Blackburn told the News that among the factors being discussed today will be the length of Miles' contract. But the length seems less important than whether the deal is structured to encourage longevity.

It will take some creativity, but the board should try to tie up chunks of Miles' compensation in longevity bonuses. For instance: If his salary is $250,000 a year, he only gets $200,000 annually until he hits the four-year mark, at which point he gets his additional $50K per year.

Another idea: If he stays less than one year, he has to let Trustee Carla Ranger drive him to whichever school district he's ditching us for. Here's hoping it's Nova Scotia Unified and that Ranger's had a lot of caffeine.

Consulting. Much has been made of Miles' side gig as an education consultant. He has said he won't be too involved in his for-profit consultancy, but he doesn't want to give it up entirely. Besides, he says, the gig gives him an opportunity to fly around the country to see what other districts are doing, and to apply those innovations back in Dallas.

But guess what? Stealing ideas from other districts is part of the job. The district should allow Miles to keep his stake in the company but make him do his consultant work on his own time. And since the job is pretty much a 24-7 one, that time should probably come out of his vacation hours.

Performance Bonuses. We know Miles favors performance-based pay for teachers, so you can count on the board building in some incentives based on how he fares. It would be interesting to see them tie some salary to something other than standardized test scores, which seem easily gamed and of questionable worth to begin with. Instead, tie some money to gaining back enrollment, creating stronger teacher pipelines or other innovations.

Sail Boats. The district should not buy Miles any sail boats. Given the budget crisis and lack of sailing options, that would be considerably weird.

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The words "forgone" and "foregone" don't mean the same thing.

(Cue the "grammar Nazi" comments.  Although this is really about usage.)

((Cue them again.))


This just shows how ignorant the DISD trustees are (I don't trust them to tell me the sun is out at noon).  If he was making $200k before - anyone with any itota of business or common sense doesn't give him a 50% raise right at the start.  Give him maybe $250 - a 25% raise (which is a big raise) and give him raises after he has brought some success.  These trustees are so easy in giving away taxpayer money - just stupid.


Don't forget about the Furniture Allowance.  He should have at least as nice a set as one of his predecessors.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Regarding Miles and  tying teacher test scores to performance pay:We are not allowed to be in the room when students we personally teach are taking the test.

Sounds good, right?  Discourages cheating, right?

But who IS in the room with the kids while they are testing?Usually, another teacher.If your students get supervised by a good teacher, lucky you.If your students get supervised by a teacher who is quitting (doesn't care), by a teacher who has been non-renewed (angry and  motivated to tank the scores), or by a generally terrible teacher, unlucky you.No performance pay for you.

I've personally seen teachers reprimanded for their behavior while they were supposed to be monitoring a test that counted toward another teacher.  Talk about too little, too late.

I'm aware of monitors talking on cell phones while kids are testing, falling asleep while kids are testing, letting kids run around the room while kids are testing, and, in one case, LETTING KIDS THROW A CHAIR OUT OF THE WINDOW while other kids in the same room were testing.  

But none of that matters when it comes to evaluations/performance pay.  You are stuck with the scores even though you had no control over what was going on in that circus room where your students (and you) were being assessed. 

Betcha Miles wouldn't let his performance and pay be dependent on so many variables can't control.


Yeah, how about his salary is pay for performance as well and administrators too!

primi timpano
primi timpano

From what I read about private sector CEOs, it is mandatory they get paid at least a million dollars a year, or the CEO will not be any good.  Since it seems everybody's desire to run DISD like a business, I suggest paying him more than any other Super in the free world, just like the Fortune 500. This takes on added importance when one remember that the DISD cannot issue stock options.

As far as the side business goes, I'm ok with it so long as he flies private jet aircraft and does not get sued for the spying.  Again, this is what all the other first team CEOs do.  It saves valuable travel time and enhances the security of the Super.  Maybe reduce his salary by 10% of the outside profits.

Yes, extra bonuses for attaining milestones.  This is important.  Again, do like the Fortune 500 and have the new Super hire the top compensation consultant to draw up a list of objectives.  Note: these performance bonuses are in addition to the Prince Fielder-like salary.

Do not skimp on the non-cash based compensation.  No deductible health care, prepaid life insurance, limo, driver and security detail, reimbursement for tax and financial planning, etc.  Should be covered.  Pay the consulting firm to figure out what else goes into the etc.  Nothing should be left out.

Most CEOs get to select a majority of the board.  This may be tricky, but a first tier Dallas law firm should be able to handle this at about $1000 per hour.  If not, Fly the Super to new York City to engage outside-outside counsel.  Some trustees may challenge this, but give them a year's worth of limo and jet privileges and maybe a consulting contract, and they will realize the need to fall on their sword for the common good.

A new accountant is a necessity.  A good accountant will be able to show the attainment of all performance bonuses and document the amazing new successes at DISD.


Please. The Dallas Morning News assures us that only DeMarcus Offord is ignorant, and he just a candidate for the BOT. You should give our BOT more credit. I mean we could have 60 or 70 AU schools instead of just 43.


 I don't see how the monitor affects much of anything.  You are not allowed to say anything to the students except - I can't help you with that just do the best you can. It sounds like some of the situations you are talking about are probably small groups.  These are students who are pulled out to be tested  separately.  They probably had not taken their medication that day - nothing the monitor can do because the administration will tell them to "redirect' the students behavior. No call to the parents about why the students did not have their medicine - no recourse to test them another day when they might actually be able to focus.  The monitor just has to "deal with it". So is it really a problem with the monitors or with parents?  I totally agree with you about the unfairness of the pay for performance but test monitoring is just one of the many problems.


I'd like to find the kid that through the chair out the window during testing, and shake his hand. He'll probably invent whatever we'll be reading blogs on in thirty years.

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