Lee’s Summit’s superintendent is Missouri’s highest paid at $397,000 a year

The total compensation package for Lee’s Summit superintendent David McGehee in 2015 was $397,000, the highest in Missouri.
The total compensation package for Lee’s Summit superintendent David McGehee in 2015 was $397,000, the highest in Missouri.

A new report on how public school district superintendents were paid last year in Missouri shows the leader of Lee’s Summit’s schools topping the list, getting nearly $95,000 more than the second highest paid.

The report by the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri says that in 2015, Missouri school districts spent an estimated total of more than $60 million in salaries, pension payments and other benefits to public school district superintendents.

Lee’s Summit superintendent David McGehee got a compensation package, including annuity and allowed expenses, that totaled an estimated $397,000, nearly as much as the president of the United States’ $400,000 annual salary.

Lee’s Summit school board officials said Thursday that the compensation listed for McGehee, who was hired in 2006 after having led the Raymore-Peculiar district for several years, includes items such as business expenses, travel and mileage. The Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri also considers that compensation for other superintendents on the list.

The district said McGehee’s base salary is $276,287.

Terri Harmon, Lee’s Summit’s board of education president, defended the total compensation package. She noted that McGehee has been a public school administrator for more than 20 years and was named Superintendent of the Year by the Missouri Association of School Administrators in 2013 and was named New Superintendent of the Year by the same organization in 2000.

“We feel fortunate in the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District to have had a long and positive relationship with one of the most experienced school superintendents in the state of Missouri,” Harmon said. “Longevity in a school​ district’s superintendent position is increasingly rare in public education,​ and the students and staff in our district are ​the beneficiaries of the continuous ​strong ​leadership provided by Dr. McGehee.”

The district did not provide a response from McGehee.

Lee’s Summit is the 10th-largest school district in the state, with a budget of approximately $231 million, about 17,700 students and 2,600 employees.

The next highest-paid superintendent on the list is in Kirkwood, where Thomas Williams’ total package was $302,308. The Kansas City Public Schools superintendent’s total salary package of $286,250 landed fourth on the list of the top 10.

To compile the list, the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri, from June to October, sent letters to all 520 of Missouri’s traditional public school districts requesting copies of their superintendent contracts under the state’s Sunshine Law. All but 15 districts responded. Several others sent contracts that had expired. Eight of the 10 highest paid are men. Ninth and 10th on that list are women.

The group used the information to produce what it calls the new Superintendent Contract Finder, which also includes some basic data about each district, including standardized test score information and district budget.

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc