Board members believe McAlester Public Schools Superintendent Randy Hughes deserves another raise.

Members voted during Monday’s meeting to approve a new contract for the superintendent reflecting an increase on the base salary to $128,750 — which still makes him one of the lowest paid superintendents of similar-sized schools.

“We think he’s done a fantastic job,” MPS Board of Education President Vic Wheeler said. “The first several years, he wouldn’t take an increase and when we hired him, we hired him significantly below area superintendents and superintendents from schools our size.”

According to data from the Oklahoma Department of Education, McAlester paid its superintendent prior to this raise less than any of the next nine schools following it in enrollment totals. McAlester’s superintendent also makes less than all but one of the next 10 programs with larger enrollment as Tahlequah’s superintendent makes $116,200 in base salary and $133,637 in total compensation.

McAlester’s enrollment is 3,100 and Hughes previously made $125,000 in base salary and $142,932 in total compensation, according to the department’s numbers.

The data shows the superintendents at the 10 next schools with more enrollment and the 10 next schools with less enrollment than McAlester average 3,171 students and get paid $143,643 in base salary with an average of $163,499 in total compensation.

Tahlequah and Grove are the only schools in that set to pay superintendents less than Hughes. Tahlequah’s enrollment is 3,663 and the school pays its superintendent $116,200 in base salary and $133,637 total. Grove’s enrollment is 2,529 with the superintendent being paid $109,241 in base salary and $126,953 in total compensation.

Total compensation in the department’s data includes benefits, stipends, salary for additional duties and more.

Hughes was previously a principal and state-title winning baseball coach in McAlester before becoming the superintendent at Middleberg Public Schools in 2011-2012 and returning to MPS during a financial crisis.

Interim superintendent Monte Madewell said in March 2016 that systematic problems and more led to the potential of a $1 million shortfall in the district.

Hughes helped lead the school back into good financial standing and documents at the board meeting showed the school’s general fund with $938,139.15 more than the previous year toward continued growth.

Voters also showed more trust in MPS spending of taxpayer money by voting to approve two separate school bonds totaling more than $2 million to go toward buses and technology. The district is also working to expand campuses, improve facilities and more with little to no additional cost to taxpayers.

“We feel like have a significant amount of momentum with the additions we’re going to do here out of funds we’re not asking the taxpayer for because we’ve been diligent about watching our spending,” Wheeler said. “And we wanted the salary to our top employee to reflect the job we think he’s doing.”

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

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